ASUU Extends Strike by 12 Weeks as NANS Threatens to Disrupt Primary Elections, Blockade National Assembly
•Threatens to block airports, roads nationwide
•FG begins consideration of Briggs Report on FG-ASUU Renegotiation Committee
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has again resolved to continue its ongoing nationwide strike for another 12 weeks just as the National Association of Nigerian Students is threatening to disrupt political parties primary election and blockade the National Assembly. It also threatened to block airports and roads nationwide if the FG/ASUU face off that crippled university education in the last three months is not resolved quickly.
This is just as the Federal Government has described the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s strike extension by 12 weeks as a breach of labour laws, revealing that it is considering the report submitted by the committee on the renegotiation of the 2009 FG-ASUU agreement.
Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, who reacted to the decision of ASUU to extend its nationwide strike by another 12 weeks, said the union acted in breach of the country’s labour laws.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, a copy of which was obtained yesterday, the university lecturers stated that: “After extensive deliberations, noting federal government’s failure to live up to its responsibilities and speedily address the issues raised in the 2020 FG-ASUU Memoradum of Action, within the additional eight week roll-over strike period declared on March 14, 2022, NEC resolved that the strike rolled-over for 12 Weeks to give government more time satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.”
The communiqué signed by ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke added: ” The roll-over strike is with effect from 12.01am on Monday, May 9, 2022.”
The union condemned what it described as government’s cavalier attitude towards the lecturers’ strike.
It also accused the three-man reconciliation team set up to resolve the dispute of failing to do its work, adding that no single meeting had been held since then.
ASUU said its members were shocked to see that while public universities were shut down and children of the poor citizens were idle at home, the political class were busy purchasing expression of interest forms with millions of naira.
They also alleged that those in power have abandoned the poorly equipped institutions in the country to be junketing between Europe and America to celebrate graduation ceremonies of their children.
“This speaks of the level of depravity, insensitivity and irresponsibility of Nigeria’s opportunistic and parasitic political class
ASUU further accused the government of employing starvation as a weapon to force the lecturers to abandon their struggle for better funding and remuneration of the staff of the universities, adding that such strategy was bound to fail and cannot stop the resolve of the university teachers.
In the communiqué, the union decried the planned oversea trip of the committee of vice chancellors’ wives, describing it as despicable and provocative at a time lecturers were at home.
ASUU said unless something was done urgently to properly redirect the renegotiation committee led by Prof. Limit Briggs, to address the issues in dispute, the exercise may end up as a wild goose chase.
ASUU has been have been on strike since February 14 and several reconciliation meetings by the federal government and the striking Lecturers have met brick walls.
ASUU Strike: NANS to Disrupt Political Parties’ Primary Elections, Blockade National Assembly
The National Association of Nigerian Students(NANS) has threatened to disrupt political parties’ primary elections to vent its anger against the extension of the nationwide strike declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) by 12 weeks.
NANS described the extension of the over two-month-old nationwide strike by ASUU as a declaration of war against students and pointed out that the extension signalled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was grossly insensitive to the plights of students.
NANS’ National President, Sunday Asefon, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
It revealed that NANS would begin ‘Operation Test Run’ across the nation beginning May 10, which will serve as a precursor to the total blockage of major roads in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Having exhausted all windows of constructive engagement with the government. I, on behalf of the national leadership of NANS, therefore, declare national action from tomorrow, May 10. The national action is tagged ‘Operation Test Run’. ‘Operation Test Run’ shall be held in all the 36 states of the Federation. Federal roads across the 36 states shall be occupied for a minimum of three hours daily,” the NANS president revealed. “The Operation shall be a precursor to a total shutdown that will be decided during our Senate meeting/pre-convention on Saturday, May 14 2022.”
The national students’ body also threatened to block airport roads nationwide and “total disruption of political party primaries,” including the blockade of the National Assembly “until they are committed to passing legislation banning public officeholders from sending their children to a university abroad.”
“I, therefore, call on NLC, TUC and civil society organisations to join us to savage the remaining crackers of our public tertiary education in Nigeria,” said Asefon.
FG Begins Consideration of Briggs Report on FG-ASUU Renegotiation Committee
Ngige explained that the education ministry wrote to write him to submit the interim report of Prof Mimi Briggs-led renegotiation committee. He also mentioned that the government was working on the interim report, insisting that the lecturers’ demands are being addressed, with discussions ongoing.
According to the labour minister, the lecturers are duty-bound to respect the principle of allowing for the dispute to be settled in a peaceful atmosphere and not with the force of a strike.
“Ministry of Labour and Employment is not the direct employer of the university teachers. The process is that whenever ASUU has a problem with the Federal Ministry of Education, which is their direct employer, the ministry will have to try and resolve it using its internal dispute resolution mechanisms,” he noted. “So when there is a breakdown in negotiations, and I apprehend the dispute on my table, and the workers refuse to go back to their work while discussions are ongoing, it is a breach of the labour law. We had apprehended the ASUU strike, we did that on the 22nd of February, and we continued the conciliation on the 1st of March.”
According to him, some of the demands of the non-academic staff and other categories of university workers overlap with that of ASUU and have to be addressed holistically.