Anxiety in Universities as ASUU Holds NEC Meeting in Calabar
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
There is palpable fear of another round of strike across the Nigerian public universities as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is billed to conclude its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, today.
The NEC meeting, which started yesterday, according to the Premium Times, is to discuss the ‘No Pay, No Work’ policy, should the government fail to release their withheld March to September salaries and the remaining parts of their October salaries.
ASUU has been at loggerheads with the federal government over unfulfilled pledges and the continued refusal to pay the eight-month salaries of its members withheld for the period of the last prolonged industrial action by the union.
NEC is the highest decision-making body of the union and sources, who are members of the body, have confirmed the possibility of declaring another round of indefinite strike action by ASUU at the meeting or later in the month.
Meanwhile, university students, shop owners and other service providers on the campuses are agitated about the development, saying such action would dash many hopes.
A member of ASUU-NEC, who pleaded to be anonymous for not being authorised to speak on the matter, told Premium Times that the meeting was part of a quarterly meeting held by the union.
The official said: “I am not sure that’s an option before the NEC, but nobody can tell until during the meeting.”
In the past weeks, the lecturers declared a lecture-free day and carried out peaceful protests on their respective campuses.
During the protests, they threatened to invoke a ‘No Pay, No Work’ policy, should the government fail to release their withheld March to September salaries and the remaining parts of their October salaries.
After ASUU suspended its strike on October 14, the lecturers were paid a ‘mutilated’ salary for the month, and the remaining months’ salaries withheld.
The government said the payment was on a pro-rata basis as the union only suspended their strike two weeks into the month. But ASUU protested, accusing the government of casualising the work of the academics.
Despite protests and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the executive arm of government has insisted it would not shift ground on implementing the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy.