*UniLag lecturers in a free for all over the continued strike
The worst crack in ASUU emerged on Monday as a group of lecturers under the platform of Movement for the Restoration of Normalcy in Nigerian Universities gave ASUU Leadership one week to call off strike or face the wrath of the mass movement.
This is even as the ASUU meeting at the University of Lagos Chapter on Monday snowballed into a free-for-all fight between lecturers who support the continuation of the strike and those insisting that the referendum in which members freely voted for the strike to be called off be respected.
At the briefing attended by members of the Movement for the Restoration of Normalcy at the Faculty of Arts Theatre in UniLag on Monday, the aggrieved lecturers stated that the ASUU leadership has completely derailed and are no longer doing the wishes of the vast majority of lecturers.
Speaking on behalf of the lecturers, Dr. Adeyemi Daramola declared that over 75percent of lecturers and ASUU branches who voted at the last referendum were clear that the strike must be called off as a mark of respect for the personal commitment of President Jonathan and the concrete steps taken by his administration fundamentally address the challenges facing the university system.
The group which started the conference with a minute silence for Prof. Iyayi regretted that after the death of the committed academic, the Dr Nasir Fagge administration of ASUU resolved to twist issues and have stated manipulating the process via secret meetings and fresh conditions, not supported by ASUU members.
He said that ASUU members from universities across the six geo-political zones are now in contact and will go back to classrooms by next week, should the Fagge leadership continue with its current games.
Also speaking, Dr. Michael Ogbeide said the action of the ASUU National leadership is negatively affecting the credibility of the union built over several years. He said that even after the strike, the movement has set in motion structures to check any further strikes by executives who are interested in scoring cheap popularity with frequent and recurring strikes.
Said Ogbeide: “For us serious minded and committed lecturers, we can no longer stand and watch while some academics in the name of ASUU continue to damage the university system. This strike no longer serves any purpose and lecturers across Nigeria voted to ensure that the strike is called off. Why then has the ASUU National leadership resorted to politics after the President clearly took the most far reaching steps to address the challenges of university education as never before”.
At the University of Lagos ASUU Branch meeting on Monday, it took ASUU national officers a long time to bring the meeting under control after members engaged themselves in fisticuffs over the propriety of the strike or otherwise.
Elderly academics worked hard to reach a compromise in which members finally agreed to discuss issues and reach a common front. The ASUU leadership of the university came under heavy attacks for allegedly attempting to deviate from the position of the members who overwhelmingly voted that the strike be called off.
Investigations by Scan News revealed that President Goodluck Jonathan is not happy with the ungentlemanly manner the ASUU National leadership took negative advantage of the unfortunate death of Prof. Festus Iyayi to renege on the agreement reached at the 13-hour meeting.
Presidency sources say that the Supervising Minister of Education, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike who is the architect of the involvement of Vice President Namadi Sambo and later President Jonathan has come under heavy attacks by administration hawks. The minister, it was who insisted that the only way forward was for the Presidency to be directly involved, even when senior administration officials maintained that ASUU members were being manipulated by opposition politicians. The u-turn by the ASUU National President who has presented fresh conditions appears to have vindicated these officials who never trusted him.
Wike was summoned to the Presidency on Monday and had to cut short a meeting with State Education Commissioners at the Federal Ministry of Education.
The ASUU National President, Dr Nasir Fagge has suddenly presented fresh conditions after holding a secret meeting in Kano.
Principal amongst the conditions are the immediate release of the salary arrears accumulated since the Federal Government started implementing the no work, no pay aspect of the labour laws. As such they want to receive full pay for work not done and they want President Jonathan to personally sign that the funds will be fully released in less than one week. They also insist on the immediate release of N100billion out of the N220billion, President Jonathan stated his administration will release annually to address infrastructural challenges in universities.
Recall that the Federal Government has already released cheques of the said N100billion to Governing Councils of Universities in a ceremony performed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Pius Anyim. The full implementation was stalled after ASUU and Governor Gabriel Suswam the NEEDS Implementation Committee chairman engaged in a conflict over the award of the contract.
Indeed, observers have been exposed clearly to the fact raised by President Goodluck Jonathan that the strike was being politically driven. So far, ASUU has made no concession, while the Federal Government has continued to shift grounds. Under the present circumstances, it appears that ASUU leadership are foreigners bent on taking several pounds of flesh from the nation, whilst the Federal Government is the only one desperate to have students back to classes.