The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has refuted reports that it is under pressure to suspend its strike, which is almost four months old.
ASUU Chairman, University of Abuja chapter, Dr. Clement Chup, during a telephone interview yesterday, reiterated the stance of the union on the implementation of the 2009 agreement signed with the federal government as a precondition for suspending the strike.
Chup also reacted to the plea by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his Sallah message, urging ASUU to call off the strike, saying: “Did the sultan say there is no basis for the strike? Did he say the strike is not genuine? Did he say government is right in not implementing the agreement?” “Government is not yet serious, when they are serious, we would know,” he added.
He said there were no formal meetings going on between the warring parties anymore.
Recent efforts by the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria (CBON) to make ASUU to shift grounds on its demands had failed to yield any result.
The bishops had written to the union pleading that it meets the government halfway in its demands.
ASUU National President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, admitted the receipt of the letter.
“We have responded to the letter and we noted that we have already met the government halfway. In 2006, we did that and the agreement then was a product of collective bargaining. In 2012, we also met the government halfway, we shifted grounds,” Fagge had said.
However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has described as a cheap and ludicrous strategy the decision by the federal government to enlist traders, religious leaders and even students to put pressure on ASUU to call off its strike without resolving the issues that caused the dispute in the first instance.
In a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the strike would have ended by now if the federal government had pursued its negotiations with ASUU with half the energy it had been using to rally various groups to protest against the union.
The party described as particularly ridiculous the crowd-for-hire protest in Abuja on Monday, by the so-called National Market Women Association, in which their leader vowed to chase lecturers out of Nigeria and replace them with ”jobless Nigerians.”.
It said: ”This infantile statement by the leader of the apparently misguided market women is the most irresponsible statement that anyone has made on the long-drawn ASUU strike, and it is a shame that the government is the instigator of such nonsense.
”While indeed there are millions of jobless Nigerians, is it just any jobless Nigerian who can be a university teacher? How does President Goodluck Jonathan, himself a former university teacher, feel about those apparently hired by his administration treating university teachers with so much disrespect? Even if the government succeeds in forcing the lecturers back to the classroom, can it force them to teach effectively?
”Why are these groups, including students who have sold their souls to the devil, not mounting the same pressure on the federal government to intensify its efforts to end the strike?”
Also yesterday, the Coalition of Civil Societies Organisation (CSOs) stormed the headquarters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to express their displeasure with the prolonged strike by ASUU.
The protesters, carrying several placards with messages that expressed their anger over the impasse, marched from the Plateau House around 10 a.m. to the Labour House.
Executive Director, Conscience Nigeria, lead organiser of the protest, Mr. Tosin Adeyanju, called on the union to end the strike, which he said “is no longer in our collective interest.”.
In another intervention, the Human Rights Writers’ Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA), has declared a hunger strike for Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the delay in reopening the universities.
The group in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, directed all its members worldwide to voluntarily embark on the two-day hunger strike if their individual health conditions permit.