Latest: Begging will not end strike,ASUU tells Jonathan



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Latest: Begging will not end strike,ASUU tells Jonathan
Posted on: October 22, 2013, 05:48:50 PM
The Academic Staff Union of
Universities has turned down
President Goodluck Jonathan’s plea
for the lecturers to end their 114-day-
old strike.
The Chairman of ASUU at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof.
Adegbola Akinola, and his University
of Ibadan chapter counterpart, Dr.
Olusegun Ajiboye, said university
teachers would only return to the
classrooms if the government honoured the 2009 agreement it
entered into with them.
They spoke just as the Minister of
Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
berated the union, saying it had taken
unionism to an all time low. But Akinola told journalists during a
rally staged by members of the union
in Ile-Ife on Monday, that Jonathan
needed not beg for the strike to be
called off.
He said, “ASUU does not need any plea from Mr. President. We are not asking
for impossible things. The Federal
Government reached an agreement
with us and we are asking them to
honour it. It is so simple.
“Government should be honourable. Is it honourable not to honour an
agreement? Certainly no. The Federal
Government should not allow the
public universities to continue to
degenerate. Posterity will not forgive
us if we allow public universities to totally collapse.
“Our country has the resources to
honour the agreement but education
is not given priority.
“The Minister of Aviation (Mrs Stella
Oduah) just got two bulletproof cars bought for N255m by an agency
under her supervision. So, who do
you want to tell that this country does
not have the resources?
“We won’t allow public universities to
be destroyed. That is why they are establishing private universities all
over the country with the nation’s
money. Except those owned by the
missionaries, tell me which of the
private universities was not
established with the nation’s resources?”
Akinola said that infrastructure were
decaying in public universities
because of the neglect they had
He explained that the strike was not about members of the union but a
means to force the government to do
the right things.
The ASUU chief warned that children
from poor homes might no longer
have access to university education if the union should succumb to the
blackmail being employed against it
by the government.
Also Ajiboye said at a town hall
meeting and presentation of the
National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy assessment
report to clerics , civil society, labour
and students at the Trenchard Hall, UI
on Monday, that Jonathan’s plea
would not make ASUU end the strike.
He said, “Will the President be quiet if his children are in one of our public
institutions and be at home for four
months? Does he care about the future
of the country while the children of the
masses in public institutions have
been asking their leader to be more sensitive and patriotic enough to
public institutions?
“How many years of appeal will make
the President implement a four-year-
old agreement? The truth is that we
are tired of appeals. We need action . “In ASUU, our belief is that today’s
event will shape the future. We cannot
live on appeal while the children of the
rich use public funds to study abroad
and even make use of government
scholarship scheme.” However, about 200 heavily armed
policemen on Monday stopped
members of ASUU from carrying out an
enlightenment walk on the strike in
Calabar, Cross River State.
The walk was organised by the University of Calabar and Cross River
State University of Technology
branches of ASUU.
It was to take off from the UNICAL gate
at 7am through some streets of
Calabar, but the policemen ensured the union members did not leave the
gate of the institution.
They said they were acting on “orders
from above.”
The Chairman ASUU, UNICAL branch,
Dr. James Okpiliya, said, “Our union is law- abiding. We wrote to the police
and other security agencies on our
intention of walking the streets in
pursuance of our cause to put the
records straight.
“Many groups have been walking the streets giving people the wrong
impression about the situation. We just
want to put the records straight. The
police are telling us that they have
orders from above not let us walk the
streets of Calabar. It is a shame. You can all see the hypocrisy of
“They allowed youths and market
women but they would not let us do
the same. We would remain resolute.
No amount of provocation would stop us.
“We are not on strike because of our
salaries. We are fighting for our
students and the terrible conditions of
our universities. Most of our science
students do not know the difference between a Bunsen burner and a stove.
They don’t even know the chemicals.
“The Tertiary Education Trust Fund
today has become a main funding
source of our universities, but this is
not to be so. TETFUND is only an intervention agency. Government has
bailed out banks and even
Nollywood,but not our universities.
“The strike would continue as long as
the government remains adamant. The
President said after all, the strike in Ghana lasted two years; so that means
this one could continue even up to five
The Chairman of ASUU, CRUTECH
branch, Dr Nsing Ogar, said the Federal
Government must honour the 2009 agreement.
But university administrators in the
country on Monday expressed
concern over the strike and appealed
to both ASUU and the Federal
Government to urgently reach a compromise on the issue.
The National President of the
Association of Nigerian University
Professional Administrators, Mr.
Samuel Mwansat, made this appeal at
the ongoing annual retreat of the National Council Members of the
association at the Tai Solarin University
of Education, Ijagun in Ogun State.
He stressed that the current
disagreement between ASUU and the
government required “understanding.”
In Abuja, Okonjo-Iweala, accused
ASUU of taking unionism to an all time
low with its latest approach to the
She accused the union of introducing politics to the strike through the
distribution of “flyers riddled with lies
in mosques in the North.”
The minister, in a statement by her
Special Adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, said
contrary to the position being spread by ASUU, she had not taken a “take-it-
or-leave-it approach” to the face-off
between the union and government.
She claimed that it was ASUU that had
taken such an approach, saying no
government had been as responsive to the demands of the striking
lecturers as that of Jonathan.
The statement reads in part, “Contrary
to some recent media reports, the
Federal Government has not adopted
a take-it-or-leave-it approach in its negotiations with ASUU. Rather, the
approach is focused on positive
engagement and achieving
sustainable solutions to the challenges
facing higher education in the country.
“That is why President Jonathan recently appealed to ASUU to respond
to government’s positive steps by
calling off its strike in the interest of
suffering students and parents.
“Despite this, for several days now,
some elements in ASUU have been distributing pamphlets and flyers with
abusive and inflammatory messages
against Dr. Okonjo-Iweala in mosques
and other places. This is taking
academic unionism to a new low and
infusing it with unnecessary politics. I am sure majority of ASUU members are
not in support of this.”
She said the government was working
hard to seek practical and sustainable
solutions to the challenges facing
higher education in the country. According to her, “ The President has
made available N100bn a year in the
first instance to repair hostels,
laboratories and classrooms and other
facilities in the universities.
“An offer of N30bn has also been made to ASUU towards the earned
allowances of its members.”

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