The ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities has entered its seventh month, The PUNCH reports.
The union went on strike on February 14, 2022 after what it described as the government’s failure to meet some of its demands.
The union is calling on the government to, among other things, improve the working conditions of university teachers, release earned fees for teachers and release revitalization funds for universities.
ASUU, Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor
Meanwhile, ASUU leadership met with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors of Universities on Wednesday about the ongoing strike.
One of our correspondents learned that the meeting had been proposed by the peace team set up by the vice chancellors.
The PUNCH reports that the peace team is made up of former vice chancellors and pro-chancellors such as former pro-chancellor of the University of Calabar, Senator Nkechi Nwagogu; former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof. JD Amin; and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Emeritus AO Bamiro, among others.
A source familiar with the matter, who declined to have his name in print because he was not allowed to speak to the press, noted: “The meeting was originally proposed by the peace team set up by the committee of vice chancellors.
The meeting was held in the National Universities Commission and all issues were discussed, the issue of funding, that is, the release of the revitalization fund, the withholding of salaries, adjustment of salaries and especially the permanent ending of strikes in universities.
When asked whether the union accepted the demands, the source said: “It was not a negotiating meeting; the VCs and the pro-chancellors are not on the side of the government; for me, they just came to share their views on the matter.”
Meanwhile, former vice chancellors, in a communiqué made available Wednesday to The PUNCH in Abuja, praised the federal government for approaching the National Industrial Court in a bid to end the strike.
The communiqué read in part: “We are aware that the federal government has sought a legal interpretation of the nature and character of the dispute as a way to break the deadlock.
“This is new and we applaud the move as civilized, but both sides will adhere faithfully to the provisions of industrial arbitration as enshrined in the International Labor Organization conventions.”
They suggested a middle ground where the government can solve the confidence problems by taking action to propose to the National Assembly its decision on improved funding.
ILO wades in
According to the Nigeria news agency, Vanessa Phala, the country director of the International Labor Organization, has stated that the organization is providing technical assistance to the government to ensure that labor laws are changed.
She made this known at the 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference hosted by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.
FG Errors Roadblocks
The federal government said on Wednesday that protesting students who blocked a traffic-laden section of the Lagos-Ibadan highway were “violating” the law.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said this at a briefing to the State House Correspondents shortly after this week’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council chaired by the President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
NANS justifies roadblocks
However, NANS has threatened the continued blockage of major highways in the southwestern states until the federal government gives in to their demands by ending the ongoing strike.
NANS South-West Coordinator, Emmanuel Olatunji, who spoke exclusively with The PUNCH, said: “We know the protest could lead to suffering for other road users. We decided to do that because we knew our parents weren’t doing anything. We want them to feel the heat too; we’re sending a signal to the federal government and our parents.
“We will be protesting in several locations that we know could have implications for the federal government. After we do this protest on two to three major highways, we will move the protest to parastatal government agencies.”