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ASUU To Meet President Jonathan Today, Expresses Reservations

The ongoing ASUU Strike may be called off soon as the leadership of the Union is meeting with the Federal Government today.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Sunday expressed reservations over the planned meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the top leadership of the union, which is scheduled for today in Abuja, in a bid to address the deadlock in the ongoing strike by the union.

But apparently disillusioned by the union’s hard stance, Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, said the strike, from all indications, had the trappings of political undertones to discredit the president, even as he insisted that his NEEDS Assessment Committee actually released about N100 billion to federal and state universities for the development of projects.

Similarly, Vice-President Namadi Sambo has appealed to ASUU to sheathe its sword and call off the strike in the interest of the students and the nation, just as the Chairperson of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) chapter of ASUU, Prof. Anthonia Okerengwo, warned that any attempt by the federal government to arm twist the union into re-opening the universities would only deepen the crisis in the education sector.

The meeting with the president is the outcome of the resolution reached last week at the meeting between Sambo, who is also the chairman of the federal government negotiation team, the supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike and ASUU.
Expressing reservations over the planned meeting, in a statement issued by the Chairman of the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Mr. Nwachukwu Anyim, said though it welcomed the concern shown by the presidency over the impasse, it noted that “ordinarily, the invitation by the president to the union would give the impression that the resolution of the strike was on the horizon.”

“While we appreciate the present show of concern from the high office of the presidency, we are however cautious in our optimism that the meeting between the president of the country and the union would yield desired results.

“The apparent lack of enthusiasm among our members concerning the outcome of the meeting is based on government’s lack of commitment towards the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement and the memorandum signed with ASUU,” the union stated.

While expressing hopes that the federal government would see reason to finally resolve the issues in contention, the union urged well meaning Nigerians and stakeholders to persuade government to implement the agreement with the union in order to save Nigeria’s public universities.
According to him, the union has received information that Jonathan intends to direct that universities should be re-opened immediately.

“As a branch, we do not think that such a directive would resolve the issues at stake. Rather, such a directive would deepen the prevailing crisis. A show of force by the president could only, at best, result in a ‘pyrrhic victory’.

“We stand on the existing agreement between the union and the federal government. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between government and ASUU and also the NEEDS Assessment Report should provide the road map for the resolution of the ongoing strike by ASUU,” the statement stressed.

However, Suswam, while insisting that the strike was laced with political undertones, said most universities have gotten the 100 billion through due process and were progressing with the jobs it was meant for.

“All agreements between ASUU and my committee have been met and I don’t know why they are still on strike, I believe the whole issue has been politicised just to discredit and paint a picture of Jonathan as a non-performer,” he said.

But faulting Suswam’s claims, Chairman of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi branch of ASUU, Dr. Celestine Aguoru, after leading some members of the branch on a peaceful match around Makurdi town in protest of the strike, accused the Suswam committee of insensitivity to the union’s call.

Aguoru, who allegedly denied knowledge of the disbursement of the sum of N100 billion to 59 public universities in the country, said: “As we speak, government has not released one kobo out of the N100 billion they claimed they have given the universities; this goes to show the level of insincerity of the government.”

On his part, while urging the striking lecturers to have a rethink, Sambo said the federal government had already moved the goal post in response to the union’s demands, so ASUU should reciprocate the gesture by calling-off the strike.

The vice-president, who made the appeal yesterday, during the inauguration of Bauchi State University (BSU), Gadau in Bauchi, said: “The federal government is rehabilitating its railway system to ease transportation as well as developing the health, agriculture and the training of youths on Industrial Computer Technology in order to create wealth and make room for private investors to invest. All these developmental plans can only be achieved when we have educated manpower.”

In another development, Okerengwo, who is the chairperson of the UNIPORT chapter of ASUU, said in a statement in Port Harcourt yesterday, that any attempt by the federal government to jettison the path of honour in its dialogue with the union would spell doom for the country.

The statement said: “ASUU has urged the federal government to follow the path of honour in its quest to resolve the lingering strike. This follows allegations in the press that the president intends to order the re-opening of universities from Monday, November 4, with or without ASUU.

“Arm twisting has never worked as a dispute resolution strategy. It is unacceptable to the union that while the president has invited the union leadership for a dialogue, some overzealous assistants to the president are clandestinely working to jeopardise the process.”

Ahmed Ogundimu

Ahmed Ogundimu is a Web Designer and Developer, Digital Marketing Expert and SEO Manager. I enjoy finding solutions to problems and sharing same, hence the reason for creating www.ngscholars.com and some other websites I own. I work as a web developer at Sigmanox NG and also as the web administrator/editor at NGScholars. Follow me on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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