University teachers in Nigeria have begun an indefinite strike, disrupting examinations in some of the varsities.
The lecturers accused the Federal Government of failure to fulfil the terms of an agreement it reached with the union since 2009.
The union took the decision at an emergency National Executive Council meeting yesterday in Abuja.
President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said at a news conference yesterday that the strike is immediate and total
“There shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meetings … till government meets the union’s demands,” Prof Ogunyemi said.
He said, “Among the issues in current disputes involved in the 2009 agreement and 2013 MOU are funding for the revitalisation of public universities and earned academic allowances.
“Others include registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), University staff school, fractionalisation and non payment of salaries.’’
Prof Ogunyemi said the government had not kept faith with ASUU even with the intervention of the National Assembly following a one week warning strike in November last year.
“We have written to government reminders we have made contacts, we have held consultations meetings but it have been promises upon promises,” he said.
“The foundation of development of any nation lies on its attention to education. No nation can grow beyond the level of its educational development.
“Any genuine move to transform Nigeria into an economically viable and politically stable country must begin with a firm commitment to an all round transformation of the country’s education.
“ASUU has been vociferous on the primacy of the university education system because it is the repository of ideas for invention, innovation and national transformation.
“It is, however, disappointing that despite the prime importance of university education, the political class in Nigeria has continued to pay mere lip-service to addressing to lose the little gains achieved from the struggles of ASUU,’’ he said.
Speaking with Daily Trust yesterday, Director Press, Ministry of Education, Mrs Chinenye Ihuoma, said a 16-member team set up by the government on the matter is still working with unions.
We’re taken aback – Babalakin
Chairman of the committee set up by the Federal Government to renegotiate the 2009 agreement with staff unions in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, Wale Babalakin (SAN), told NTA last night that “We were really taken aback by the strike action. As you are well aware, government set up a renegotiation committee to look at the 2009 agreement, to look at ways of funding university education, to look at ways of stabilising the university calendar. This committee has started intensive negotiation with ASUU. We met less than 10 days ago. And in view of the setup of this committee it is totally out of place to go on nationwide strike. I’m reluctant to say this is bad faith. Secondly, most of the issues raised by ASUU are issues inherited by this government, and the government has steadfastly tried to implement a resolution. The minister of education when inaugurating the committee expressed very clearly that it was critical to resolve all these issues. And it must be on record that 2009 agreement which was finalised in 2009 ought to have been renegotiated in 2012 and 2015. The first person to take a conscious action in renegotiating it is the current minister of education who set up the committee.”
He added that the committee was totally unaware of any breakdown (of the talks). All the issues raised here are actually being addressed.
On the earned allowances, he said government released N30bn on the understanding that a proper forensic audit will take place, adding that the process of commencing the audit has been completed and the result should be out as soon as possible.
On the NEEDS assessment he said government released N200bn and a substantial part of the money remains unaccessed by the various institutions. He also said they have a meeting scheduled for early next month. He however said they remained open for talks and can even commence tomorrow.
However, Prof Ogunyemi countered that the Wale Babalakin-led committee lacked the powers to resolve all the issues.
Ogunyemi called on influential Nigerians to prevail on the government to be alive to its responsibilities.
Meanwhile, the strike has taken effect in many universities including Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria; University of Ibadan and Bayero University Kano (BUK).
At the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, all academic activities, including examinations, slated for yesterday were cancelled.
Daily Trust correspondent observed that some students were already seated at various examination halls when the directive for the strike filtered; as scripts already distributed were retrieved.
Similarly, students formed clusters carrying tree leaves and chanting ‘we must go’ and marched up to the entrance of the university’s senate building.
Some lecturers interpreted the students’ action as solidarity for their teachers.
Lecturers were seen in their offices but were not attending to any academic duties.
When contacted, the chairman of ABU-ASUU, Dr. Mustapha Liman, expressed happiness over what he called total compliance of the strike directive by the academic staff.
In BUK, our reporter gathered that the strike had paralysed academic activities as both lecturers and students had complied with industrial action.
A lecturer in the University, who craved for anonymity, told Daily Trust that although the BUK’s ASUU chapter did not release any statement regarding the strike, students did not report to their classes.
At Yusuf Maitama Sule University, the ASUU branch had directed all academic staff to boycott all academic activities.
A statement signed by one Abdulrazaq Ibrahim directed all academic staff to comply with the ASUU national leadership.
In Ibadan, the strike halted the ongoing Master examinations and academic activities in some faculties of the University of Ibadan.
Umaru Yarádua varsity joins strike
In Katsina academic activities were yesterday disrupted at the Umaru Musa Yaradua University as the Academic Staff Union of University down tools following the directives from National body.
The branch chairman Mahmud Abdulsalam said a congress was held where it was resolved to join the strike as directed by the mother body.
However, academic activities are ongoing at the newly established Federal University Dutsinma FUDMA as the varsity is a new one that does not have ASUU union for now.
ASUU strikes in Sokoto
In Sokoto, academic activities have been paralysed at the Sokoto State University as the strike action called by the national body of the union commenced at the institution.
The branch Chairman, ASUU Sokoto state University,Dr.Attahiru Sifawa confirmed:“We have commenced strike today(Monday) early in the morning, everything is now suspended.”
At the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, the ASUU chairman who was on his way back to Sokoto from a journey outside the state , however spoke to Daily Trust on phone.
We’re complying – LASU
The Lagos State University (LASU) Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU), has vowed that it would comply “100 percent” with the directive of it’s national body.
The LASU ASUU chairman, Dr Bimbo Oyewunmi disclosed this to Daily Trust correspondent who visited the University to ascertain compliance level.
I can assure you that this is a strike action that will soon take its toll on all University’s activities.
On ASUU strikes in Kogi
A check by Daily Trust correspondent at the Federal University, Lokoja indicates that a number of the students were still seen on campus in their groups discussing the strike action.
Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the institution, Dr Anslem Oyem, said lecturers would be joining the indefinite strike action as declared by the national body.
Lecturers at the University of Port Harcourt yesterday complied with the directives as academic activities were grounded in the University.
Our reporter gathered that lecturers deserted classroom.
UniAbuja to join
The Chairman of ASUU University of Abuja chapter, Dr Ben Ugheoke said the strike will begin tomorrow after congress meeting.
The university’s spokesperson Waziri Garba said he is not aware of any notification to the university management that they have started strike.
At Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) Ile-Ife, the ASUU strike did not prevent the ongoing examination as the students wrote their examinations under peaceful atmosphere without any hindrance.
The factional chairmen of OAU chapter of ASUU, Dr Caleb Aborisade and Dr Niyi Sumonu could not be reached at the time of filing these reports and there was no indication on the campus to suggest that ASUU strike would be effective in Ife this time.
The Public Relation Officer of OAU, Mr Biodun Olanrewaju said the examination was taking place under a conducive atmosphere and that the ASUU strike would not stop the examination.
The University of Ilorin chapter of ASUU said the indefinite strike is justifiable.
A factional chairman of ASUU at the University of Ilorin, Dr Usman Adebimpe Raheem, said this during a telephone interview with our correspondent in Ilorin.
According to Raheem, “the strike called upon by the National body is justifiable but Unilorin ASUU is not part of it.
Our correspondent could not reach the other factional Chairman, Mr Kayode Afolayan who is said to be on suspension.
UNIOSUN holds examination
The strike however, could not prevent the Osun State University from holding examinations on Monday.
Some members of ASUU in the university who wanted to prevent the examination in certain campuses of UNIOSUN could not succeed and the students were able to sit and write their examination as scheduled.
It was gathered that the Vice-Chancellor of UNIOSUN, Professor Labode Popoola threatened to deal with any staff that disrupt the examination. The students of the university commended the VC for his action.
Senate to intervene
The Senate said yesterday it would engage relevant stakeholders to end the indefinite strike.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary education and TETFund, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano) stated this in a phone interview with our correspondent yesterday.
Additional reports from Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan), Hameed Oyegbade (Osogbo), Habibu Umar Aminu (Katsina), Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano), Romoke W. Ahmad (Ilorin), Isa Sa’idu (Zaria), Hope Abah (Makurdi), Rakiya A.Muhammad (Sokoto), Itodo Daniel Sule (Lokoja), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt) & Nurudeen Oyewole (Lagos)