Stakeholders have appealed to the Federal Government and university lecturers to resolve their lingering dispute in the country’s interest.
This followed yesterday’s declaration of fresh industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The Nation’s checks revealed that ASUU has gone on strike for a total of more than 49 months since the return of democracy in 1999.
The stakeholders lamented that the incessant strike action was taking a heavy toll on the academic pursuit of students in public tertiary institutions.
ASUU’s national president Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke broke the news of the strike during a press conference following a two-day deliberation of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) tagged ‘NEC for NEC.’
Osodeke added that the nationwide strike was for four weeks and would be “comprehensive and total”.
The union’s demands include funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances and University Transparency Accountability Solution.
Others are renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System Payment.
Osodeke said: “The NEC of our union has resolved to embark on a four-week total and comprehensive strike beginning from February 14.
“That’s the resolution of the latest NEC meeting held on February 12 and 13. The patience of our members has been dragged beyond a tolerable limit.
“The greatest asset of any nation is human capital. We, therefore, seek the understanding and support of all stakeholders to make the Nigerian government more responsible to issues of human capital development.”
Members of the NEC, encompassing ASUU leaders across campuses, had been holding meetings since Saturday, the latest of which was at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) described ASUU’s action as “disappointing.”
It said it thought ASUU and the Federal Government represented by top executives would allow reason to prevail by reaching a compromise.
In a statement by its President, Asefon Sunday, NANS said it would take a decisive decision on February 17 at its non-elective congress on February 17.
The NANS – Joint Campus Committee (JCC), Ondo State chapter begged the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the dispute.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Kayode Soremekun, advised that former vice-chancellors should be allowed to mediate the dispute.
The West Africa Student’s Union, WASU through its President Pillah Romans Orhembaga warned the government not to blame ASUU, but that education should be made an essential service that cannot attract industrial action.
Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo urged President Buhari to intervene.
In Anambra, the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU), chapter of ASUU dissociated itself from the strike.
But Nnamdi Azikiwe University UNIZIK branch of ASUU said the chapter would take a decision when it meets this week.
The Interim Chairman of the union at Ojukwu Varsity, Prof Osita, Chiaghanam, said the lecturers would not embark on any strike at a time they were expecting a new visitor, the State Governor-elect, Prof Chukwuma Soludo.
Academic activities continued unabated at Delta State University, Abraka while lecturers were seen teaching in lecture halls in the newly established Dennis Osadebay University, Anwai, Delta State.
In Jigawa, students of the Federal University Dutse (FUD) and Sule Lamido University (SLU) Kafin Hausa remained on campus despite the announcement.
In Ondo, academics in tertiary institutions were yet to comply with the strike.
Prof. Olayinka Awopetu, Chairman, ASUU, Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) said the strike would be complied with after its congress.
In Rivers, academic activities were not immediately affected by the declaration at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) and the Rivers State University of Technology (RSUT), but UNIPORT ASUU Chairman, Dr. Uzoma Darlington, said the strike would be activated from today.
In Osun State, lecturers of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife stopped online classes for students of the institution in compliance with the strike.
But lecturers of the institution who belong to another faction of the union, the Congress of University Academics (CONUA) continued taking students in classrooms.
In Enugu, lecturers at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), ensured compliance with the strike, same as the University of Jos in Plateau.
In Delta and Edo states, the Federal University of Petroleum Resources and the University of Benin (UNIBEN) will join the strike today.
Lectures continued in the two public Universities in Ebonyi State despite ASUU’s declaration.
At the Alex Ekwueme Federal University and the Ebonyi State University, lectures were held till evening hours.
The strike was also yet to begin in Yobe and Borno States, but the three ASUU branches for the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID); Yobe State University (YSU); and Federal University Gashua (FUGA) will take a decision on the strike tomorrow.
In Kano, the varsities were waiting for the decision of the state’s branch of ASUU.
ASUU’s decision coincided with the start of the NUGA Zone N preliminary competition at the Adamawa State University (ADSU), Mubi, which was declared open by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri.
The host and the Modibbo Adama University (MAU), Yola; America University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola; Taraba State University (TSU), Jalingo; and Federal University Wukari started a series of games from which winners will emerge for the finals in Lagos.