The federal government has announced the extension of the deadline for the striking university lecturers to resume work from December 4 to December 9.
The executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Julius Okojie, announced the new date while addressing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
Okojie explained that government made the decis ion to shift the deadline after it received notification of the funeral rites of the late former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Festus Iyayi’s slated for between December 5-7.
Iyayi died on November 12, 2013 in an auto crash on the Lokoja-Abuja express way, while on his way to attend the association’s meeting in Kano to discuss the lecturers’ strike action.
According to Okojie, the decision is also to avoid a situation where government and ASUU will have to deal with the ultimatum during the funeral of the former ASUU President.
“Based on this information, government decided to shift the resumption deadline to December 9, to enable lecturers to participate in the burial,” he said.
The NUC executive secretary said the directive had been communicated to the governing councils of various universities and vice chancellors for onward transmission to the academic staff.
Okojie added that there was no intention to victimise any lecturer for participating in the strike, but maintained that any lecturer who resumed work after the expiration of the new deadline would not have his or her salary arrears paid.
“You cannot pay someone who has failed to resume work. You are on strike and you want to be paid? What if some has already left the system? Some of our very bright lecturers may have got jobs elsewhere,” he said.
On the N200billion Revitalisation Fund which ASUU wanted government to disburse within two weeks, Okojie said the money had been deposited in an account in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, but added that the money cannot be disbursed as ASUU demands because it was meant for capital projects.
He stressed that government, as employer of labour, could not fold its arms while the institutions remained shut at the detriment of students.