ASUU2

Sack threat-ASUU we are resolute on our stand

By AMAKA ABAYOMI, LAJU ARENYEKA &
IKENNA ASOMBA
Despite the ultimatum given by the Federal
Government to the striking university
lecturers to call off the strike or face the
risk of being sacked, the lecturers have
remained resolute in their stand, saying
they would only shift ground when
government does the right thing.
Recall that the Federal Government, through
the Supervising Minister of Education,
Nyesom Wike, a week ago, ordered the
striking lecturers to resume work on or
before December 4, or face the prospect of
being sacked. The ultimatum has now been
extended to Monday, December 9.
Briefing journalists on Monday, National
President, ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge said
government was free to open all the federal
universities in the country but all ASUU
members would not go back to work
unless the government met all their
demands.
File: Cross section of stakeholders at a
meeting to review the ongoing strike by
ASUU held at the Trenchard Hall of the
University of Ibadan. Photo by Dare Fasube
“We shall bow only to what we as
academics are convinced will serve the
interest of Nigeria and its people, no matter
their ethnic, religious or class origins. This
is where we stand we shall never be
cowed.
“Since the issuance of the union’s response
to the said letter, the salvos that have been
coming out, allegedly from the Minister of
Education, make one to wonder whether
the person that is charged with the
responsibility of superintending over the
Nigeria’s education system has the
wherewithal to handle such a vital national
assignment.”
The ASUU President stated that ASUU had
no role in closing and opening of
universities in Nigeria, rather it could
withdraw its services which he said was
the right of every worker.
Justifying government’s plans to sack
lecturers, the Public Relations Officer,
National Universities Commission, Mallam
Ibrahim Yakassai said: “Federal
Government has every right to sack ASUU if
the union is being unreasonable, just the
same way your employer has the right to
sack you.
“Everyone keeps going on and on about
the 2009 agreement, everyone is listening
to ASUU, but no one wants to listen to
government, which has given ASUU most of
the things they asked for and has bent over
backwards for ASUU.
“Government would be justified in sacking
lecturers if they do not return to the
classrooms, lecturers are not the only ones
in the employ of the Federal Government to
be causing this kind of headache.”
Pointing out that the union is unperturbed
by the threat, the Chairman of ASUU, Lagos
State University, LASU, Dr. Idris Adekunle,
said: “there is no law that established any
committee of Pro-Chancellors, therefore, we
are not bound by any directive of the
Committee. We are on a national strike and
are still negotiating with government and
we know that such directive is not in the
best interest of education stakeholders.
“Our members know that we are fighting a
just cause which is to stop the decadence
in our education sector and we are bent to
see it to the end. We are not bothered
about any clandestine move that may come
from anywhere because we are resolute,
believe in the cause and are ready to fight
this to the end.”
For the ASUU Ibadan Zonal Chairman, Dr
Adesola Nasir, government’s order for
schools to reopen is not the same thing as
the academic staff resuming work because
the schools were shut down by the
management.
“One thing that I know is that ASUU
members are resolute in our stand that we
are not calling off the strike till government
does the right thing.
“The threat is so primitive in this day and
time, especially coming from someone who
is from the academic. Rather than worrying
how to fill in the over 23,000 short in
teaching staff and move the sector
forward, government is threatening to sack
us.
“We are not bothered by the threat
because we are not asking for money for
our pockets but for the development of the
varsity system. Government keeps
complaining that our graduates are not
employable yet they don’t want to put
things in place to make them employable.”
The former Registrar, University of Lagos,
Mr. Rotimi Shodimu said “whether or not
the President said it is the Committee of
Vice Chancellors or of Pro-Chancellors that
issued the ultimatum, I have no doubt that
the Federal Government and the Presidency
gave the go ahead. From the President’s
mannerism, it is obvious that he endorsed
the ultimatum.”
An online reader, Terry4brandy, said “how
would Jonathan honour the agreement
with ASUU when Asari Dokubo has a
university in Benin Republic? I have been
expecting Asari Dokubo and his comrades
in arm to start ‘shooting’ ASUU members
back into classrooms.”
A parent, who declined to give his name,
said “whatever is worth doing is worth
doing well, ASUU should see this struggle to
a logical conclusion. You can see the level of
confusion with the Nigerian government
GEJ, Wike, CVC and committee of Pro-
Chancellors who among these issued the
ultimatum? Therefore, as far as I’m
concerned, government is not yet ready to
resolve the crisis, it still needs additional
dose of the strike.”
Describing government’s sack threat as
empty, the Chairmnn of ASUU, Kogi State
University, KSU, Dr. Sylvester Ukwuteno, said
“I think the threat by government to sack
lecturers after the Wednesday, December 4
deadline is an empty threat. Wike who
issued the threat is only mis-educating and
misleading the Presidency on this issue.
“Unfortunately, much is left to be desired,
as regards the latest denial by the President
himself that it was the Committee of Vice
Chancellors who gave a seven-day
ultimatum for lecturers to resume or risk
being sacked. Our position still remains that
government should do what is expected of
them as contained in our letter.”
Pull-away varsities
In obedience to the federal government’s
directive, a growing number of schools
have pulled away from the struggle and
have reopened and also instructed their
students to resume classes.
Pointing out that reopening schools and
lecturers resuming work are two different
ball games, the University of Lagos ASUU
Chairman, Dr. Karo Ogbinaka, said
management can order for schools to be
reopened because they, not lecturers, were
the ones that locked up the schools in the
first place.
“Government just wants to create a band
wagon effect by making people believe that
some schools are pulling out. We have
contacted our members in different schools
and we are resolute in our stand that
government should release the N200bn it
agreed to inject into the system then we
can start from there.”
When asked if the pull away varsities would
not affect the struggle, the LASU ASUU
Chairman, Dr. Idris Adekunle, said “we are
not bothered with any pull-away school
and government’s threat to sack us.
Nigerians are too knowledgeable to be
cowed by those old storyline of the past.
“The military administration of General
Ibrahim Babaginda tried it but didn’t
succeed. We are now in a democratic
dispensation where freedom of speech and
expression is recognized. So, we are not
bothered because the law protects us as a
union to demonstrate and strike when all
other options have failed.”

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