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Universities Remain Shut As ASUU Defies Govt’s Return To Work Order

Most public universities remained shut on Monday as lecturers defied the order by the federal government to return to work or be sacked.

The brawl between both parties escalated after several failed attempts at peace, with the government announcing a December 9 ultimatum for the lecturers to go back to work.

ASUU had described the threat and its corresponding ultimatum as a joke and set for the outcome of events, patiently did a countdown to Monday when it displayed doggedness in its struggle and proved to hold the keys to the lecture rooms even though it is only an employee of government.

Virtually all the schools monitored failed to succumb to the dictate of the federal government and although some lecturers were present at institutions visited, they would not sign the attendance register which they equated with signing a death warrant.

In institutions where a few lecturers showed up, they also refused to hold lectures or conduct examinations as was the case at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT.

The second semester examination of ESUT could not hold on Monday due to the absence of lecturers, even though the institution had announced resumption with the commencement of examinations and students were seen in the lecture halls waiting for question papers which never arrived.

Some frustrated students called on both parties to reach a compromise and resume academic activities, stressing that the students are made to bear the brunt of the fight.

The dean of the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, Joseph Aneke, said that there was no instruction from ASUU for academic activities to resume.

“That is why the examination could not start today. Due to the strike, academic activities have been postponed indefinitely until the strike is called off.”

Chairman of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, ASUU chapter, Ifeanyinchukwu Abada, confirmed that the institution too had not resumed.

“Lecturers are ready to resume work as soon as the government meets their demands. We are waiting for the government’s sack letters as the deadline ends today,” he said.

At the Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria and Bayero University Kano, BUK, no attendance registers were opened by the authorities and the campuses remained mostly deserted.

Chairman of ASUU in BUK, Muhammad Kabir Aliyu, said the strike was a necessary evil and a price that must be paid at this time to salvage the system from total collapse.

“It is not that we are enjoying this strike, but it is something that becomes necessary in order to save the education sector from total collapse. This strike continues until our national executive decides otherwise,” he said

Like others, the University of Lagos, UNILAG; the Lagos State University, LASU; the Federal University of Technology, FUT Minna and the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, all failed to resume on Monday.

A visit to two campuses of the FUT, Minna, showed that none of the 730 showed up for lectures.

As at the close of work on Monday, none of the lecturers had appended their signature on the register which was opened on December 2.

Classrooms, lecture theatres, laboratories, workshops and studios at Bosso and Gidan Kwano remained under lock and key.

Efforts to get the school’s Registrar,  Victoria Kolo, for comments as press time proved unsuccessful as she was said to have been in a meeting but a source in her office confirmed that no lecturer has signed the register.

The branch chairperson of ASUU, Abdulfatai Jimoh, said that the union will not be intimidated and that lecturers in the school will neither sign the register nor return to work until the federal government implements the 2009 agreement.

“We at FUT Minna have resolved to stand by the decision of national ASUU. No amount of treat will make us sign any register or return to classroom. The strike is still in force. No retreat, no surrender,” Jimoh stated.

However, at the University of Benin, as many as 30 lecturers signed the attendance register, but with many more insisting that the strike must continue.

Those who appended their signatures on the register said they boycotted the strike not for fear of losing their jobs but as a result of the unsatisfactory way in which the union was handling the situation.

One of the lecturers who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they expected ASUU to call off the strike after the intervention by President Goodluck Jonathan.

However, the institution’s ASUU chairman, Tony Emina-Monye, said the strike continues and that lecturers were not moved by the sack threat.

“We are disregarding the ultimatum and threat of sack by the federal government. We are still on strike and none of our members has signed any register to resume work. We will continue with the strike until otherwise directed by the national secretariat of the Union,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has begun another move to intervene in the impasse between ASUU and the federal government.

The acting general secretary of the NLC, Chris Uyot, said it had written a letter to the Presidency seeking leave to intervene in the crisis which is now in its sixth month.

“We have sent a letter to the presidency today, December 9. We want to intervene in this matter. The turn of events is causing a lot of disaffection which can easily be resolved, that is if the government is willing to talk about it,” Uyot said.

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