ASUU set to suspend strike this week



ASUU-President-Prof.-Ukachukwu-Awuzie

Indications have emerged that the  Academic Staff Union of Universities may call off the over four-month-old strike on Thursday.
 

Barring a last-minute change, the
National Executive Committee of ASUU will
meet on Wednesday night to
consider the position of the congresses of the over 50 public
universities on the offer made by the Federal government to revamp the
institutions.

The  union met with  a Federal Government team led by President Goodluck Jonathan last Tuesday in Abuja.

The  ASUU leadership, after briefing the
zonal coordinators  on  the offer, had directed the local branches   to
organise  congress meetings between Friday last week and Tuesday
(tomorrow).

This is to enable all the lecturers to make input into the action the union would take after its NEC meeting on Thursday.

However, feelers from most universities
that had organised their congresses revealed that ASUU  would suspend
the strike after the  Thursday NEC meeting.

In  some universities, including the
Obafemi Awolowo University and the Lagos State University that have
scheduled their congress meetings for Monday (today),  union leaders and
lecturers expressed hope that the strike would end this week.

Also, some top officials of the union in
some of the nine zones of ASUU said even though they were not happy
with the plan by the government to inject N220bn yearly into the public
universities for the next five years, they were pleased that a
commitment had been obtained by the union.
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Though the Ibadan Zonal Coordinator of
ASUU, Dr. Nasir Adesola, confirmed that the NEC meeting would hold on
Wednesday, he did not say whether the strike would be called off or not.

“Yes, the NEC will hold on Wednesday
evening but ASUU has a process which we are going to follow. NEC
reserves the right to call off the strike after due consultation with
members and this is why congresses are being called in all the chapters
of the union. Please, wait till after the congress,” he told one of our
correspondents on the telephone.

But another  source said, “Our NEC
meeting will hold between Wednesday night and Thursday. Our chapters
have started holding meetings to discuss the Federal Government’s offer.
This is to allow input from all the lecturers. We have to carry them
along to avoid disunity since there are moves by some elements to
infiltrate us.”

Another source told one of our
correspondents that some members had expressed mixed feelings about the
Federal Government’s  new offer based on its refusal to honour  past 
agreements.
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“The radicals among us are  sceptical
about this latest offer. They do  not believe that government will
respect the agreement. Their view is  that government only wants  to
deceive the union to call off the strike before it will jettison it.”

A top official of the union,  who
confirmed the fears,  told one of  our correspondents that although
members’ opinions at the zonal congresses were divided over the
government’s offer, the majority still decided to give  the government
the benefit of the doubt.

He also said that  the majority opinion
was that the review of the agreement which was supposed to hold this
year should be postponed till next year in the interest of peace.

 The official added, “Members were
persuaded because President Goodluck Jonathan personally met with the
union. They felt since the President was involved in the negotiation
this time around, the government would not say that it was arm-twisted
to make the offer.

“This is the problem we are having with
the 2009 agreement. By now we should be talking about a review but we
are still having troubles with implementation.

“Although feelers across the zones are
that we should call off the strike, we are going to put down the
government offer in black and white and make it public so that nobody
accuses us tomorrow  of  asking for too much.”

Some universities are expected to hold
their congresses on Monday (today) to discuss the outcome of the zonal
congresses held at nine centres across the country last week.

A source at the meeting  between the
government and ASUU   told one of our  correspondents  that the
government after a long debate agreed to inject N220bn yearly for the
next five years beginning from 2014.

He had said, “The meeting should be the
longest that we have ever had on this crisis but I can tell you that
both parties were frank all through the discussions. The parties also
showed commitment towards ending the crisis. The President in particular
showed that he was serious about ending the strike and that was why he
offered to release over N1tn to the universities in the next five years.

“The money will be released on a yearly
basis at N220bn per annum beginning from 2014. For the outgoing year,
the Federal Government will only release N100bn and this has been
processed.

“In order to show commitment to this
deal, the money will be kept at the Central Bank of Nigeria  and will be
released on a quarterly basis to the universities. So, there won’t be
any problem about funding the deal.”

The source added that the National
Universities Commission and the Trade Union Congress would be joint
guarantors of  the new agreement while the Minister of Education would
be the implementation officer.

He said  that the  government  also
agreed, among other things, to revamp the public universities by
ensuring that all the issues that always lead to strike were dealt with
once and for all.


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Source: Punch Nigeria
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