Academic activities were grounded in many universities, on Wednesday, in compliance with the seven-day warning strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This was as separate moves by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Minister of Labour Chris Ngige failed to stop the union from going ahead with the strike.
ASUU said the strike became necessary due to government’s inability to address several demands and agreements reached with the body.
The Senate had mandated Saraki to mediate between the Federal Government and the union in order to halt the strike.
Saraki convened a meeting with the ASUU leadership, Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka and other top functionaries at the Senate. But the three hour meeting failed to convince the union.
Addressing newsmen, ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who led the union to the meeting, reiterated their commitment to work with the committee to resolve the issue.
“Our union will work with the committee. We will do all that are possible with the approval of our members, we will get its resolved,” he said.
Saraki left the venue without speaking to press, but the chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano) said they had a fruitful deliberation.
“A way forward has been found by creating a sub-committee of this committee to sit and find out certain things in the Ministry of Finance which will bring us close to the resolution of this problem.
“We will start sitting by tomorrow (today) including the Minister of Finance who has not been able to attend this meeting but we are sure she will be here tomorrow and the Director General of the Budget Office,” he said.
Barau who sponsored the motion that led to the intervention of the Senate, said they have created a template on how problem can be resolved.
Also speaking, Anwuka said solutions have been found on how to resolve the faceoff.
“We hope at the end of deliberations, we will be able to find pleasant resolutions,” the minister said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Clement Iloh, who represented the Minister Senator Chris Ngige, also expressed optimism that the committee would resolve the issue.
Sen. Ngige had earlier urged ASUU to rescind its decision on the warning strike so as to give the present administration an opportunity to discuss all the contending issues arising from the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) it reached with the immediate past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The minister said that the claims of nationwide consultations by ASUU cannot be true as the Ministry of Labour and Employment, which is the chief conciliator of industrial relations disputes, is yet to receive a direct petition from ASUU against the Federal Government who is the jurisdictional employer.
The minister emphasized the need for a proper re-negotiation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement which ASUU reached with the previous administration through a clear channel of social dialogue, starting with its immediate employer, the Ministry of Education, and next, to the Labour Ministry.
He said in view of the prevailing circumstances, the issuance of warning strike by ASUU was unconstitutional as the body was yet to exhaust the conflict resolution mechanisms clearly mapped out in the labour laws.
The ATBU ASUU chapter Chairman, Adamu Babayo said at a press conference in Bauchi yesterday that ”our branch is in full support of the NEC decision to proceed on the one week warning strike to persuade the FGN to fully implement the agreement and resume negotiations.”
Academic activities paralysed at ABU
At the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, the ASUU strike was largely successful, as academic activities at most of the departments and faculties were brought to standstill.
In the main campus, Daily Trust observed that lectures did not take place in the faculty of Social Sciences. Examination for Diploma students scheduled for yesterday at the department of Political Science was rescheduled to next week because of the strike.
Similarly, at the Kongo campus, a meeting that was scheduled for yesterday at the department of Accounting was also rescheduled to next week in view of the strike.
However, many lecturers reported to their offices, but did not conduct lectures. The lecturers that defied the directive of the national body of ASUU and went ahead with their lectures were stopped by the officials of the local chapter.
Examination disrupted at UMYU
In Katsina State, the ongoing second semester examinations at the Umaru Musa Yaradua University (UMYU) were disrupted due to the strike.
The DEFENDER gathered that at the institution along Dutsinma Road, students were seen returning home as they could not continue with their examinations. The ASUU branch chairman Dr. Jamilu Shehu in a statement said the strike is total and comprehensive.
However, at the Federal University, Dutsinma academic activities were going on smoothly because the institution is yet to have an ASUU branch as it is among the newly established universities.
In Nasarawa State, the strike commenced in both the Federal University Lafia and the Nasarawa State University Keffi, and has grounded academic activities in the two institutions. In Edo State, lecturers boycotted lectures. There was also total compliance at the University of Abuja.
In Gombe, there was total compliance by the Academic Staff of Gombe State University. Some of the students staying on campus have left the hostels describing the strike as a break for them.
In Bauchi, a source confirmed to Daily trust that Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) lecturers have joined the strike.
The University of Port Harcourt and the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) observed the strike today. Acting Chairman of ASUU, RSUST branch, S. T. Puyate, said the strike was in solidarity with the national body.
The Chairman of ASUU, University of Lagos (UNILAG) branch, Dr Adelaja Odukoya told journalists that “People should not think ASUU is often enthusiastic about strike actions. If anything, our members have more to lose. This warning strike was avoidable and it only came because of government insensitivity and inactions.”
In Sokoto, ASUU, Sokoto State University (SSU) joined the weeklong warning strike. Speaking on the strike, Chairperson ASUU, SSU branch, Dr. Attahiru Sifawa stated: “The patience of our members has been overstretched by the federal and state governments.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, ASUU said that the on-going one-week warning strike by the union is not an indication of insensitivity to the present economic realities.
Addressing newsmen in Awka, the Chairman of the body, Comrade Prof. Dennis Aribodor, alleged that some of the institutions who are not part of the strike action are being sponsored by the government through financial inducement.
In Kogi, lecturers at the Federal University Lokoja and their counterparts at the Kogi State University, Anyigba joined the strike, thereby grounding academic activities at both institutions.
In Kano, the Bayero University Kano, Northwest University and the Kano State University of Science and Technology all complied with the strike, disrupting examinations in the latter.
In Adamawa, the Modibbo Adama University, Yola also complied with academic activities suspended.
However, in Kwara there is divided response, while the chairman of ASUU at the University of Ilorin supported by the school management Dr Usman Raheem said they were not going to join the strike, the chairman of the faction supported by the ASUU national body Dr Kunle Afolayan said the have joined the strike.