by Dare Lawal
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) across the universities in the federation are divided on whether to continue with the ongoing strike action or to call it off.
On Monday, they met in their various campus branches to discuss the president’s offer and vote accordingly and whereas several universities refused to disclose the results of their voting, among those who disclosed, the result was not unanimous.
According to the operating guidelines of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the local chapters are expected to vote on whether they agreed with the proposal and that the strike should end or whether they disapproved and the strike should continue.
Following the meeting at the various campuses, the decisions reached are to be taken to tomorrow’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, which will take a decision after aggregating the opinions from all the branches. So far the branches are divided but if the early trends continued through most of the universities, then a majority of the universities will support the suspension of the strike.
According to reports:
The University of Lagos (UNILAG), Lagos State University (LASU), University of Calabar (UNICAL), Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Federal University of Technology Minna and Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso chapters voted that the strike should end. Some of them, however, gave conditions.
The University of Jos (UNIJOS), the University of Benin (UNIBEN) and the Nasarawa State University chapters voted that the strike should continue.
UNIJOS chapter chairman Dr. David Jankam said members did not see any substance in the dialogue with the Federal Government to warrant calling off the strike.
He said: “We have just rounded off our meeting. As a matter of fact, our members voted overwhelmingly for the continuation of the strike.
“I can also confirm to you that five of the eight universities that make up the Bauchi Zone of ASUU have also voted for continuation of the strike, and the general saying is that the government has not shown any commitment so far.
“We started the meeting by briefing our members on issues resolved with the Federal Government in the last meeting with the president of ASUU.
“But in responding to the briefing, our members observed that the main issues that led to the strike were not discussed at the Aso Rock meeting.
“As such, my members said President Jonathan is taking them for a ride by trying to divert attention from the core subjects of the strike.”
Jankam went on: “I will now convey the resolve of our branch to our national president at the NEC meeting tomorrow.”
The congress of the Union at the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna was divided, with majority of the members supporting the suspension of the action. Others would want it suspended with some conditions met by the government.
The minority demanded that in calling off the action, the leadership of the union should insist that no member is victimised for his roles in the strike. They also insisted that government should indicate in the final agreement that the 2009 agreement was due for negotiation and the payment of the balance of their academic earned allowances.
As soon as Dr. Fatai Jimoh briefed the congress of the outcome of the meeting between President Jonathan and the union, the house was divided, with the majority of the members pushing for suspension.
The few dissenting voices argued that the union should not fall prey to the government’s ploy. They cautioned that the union cannot take the government for its word, maintaining that if the union had to embark on a strike after series of correspondences and strike in 2011 that led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2012 were not honoured.
But majority of the university teachers said the plight of the students and their parents should be considered.
After an exhaustive debate, the congress directed its chairman to convey to the National Executive Council meeting holding tomorrow at the Bayero University in Kano that the union could consider suspending the action, but insisted that the three conditions be met.
Chapter chairman Dr. Fatai Jimoh, who initially refused to divulge the outcome of the congress, later said: “I have the mandate to take the decision of the congress to NEC. But, if you insist to know, majority of our members called for the suspension of the strike but with the government fulfilling three conditions.
“Don’t ask me the conditions, because we don’t want it yet in the public domain. All I can tell you is that the strike is still on, until the NEC of the union decides otherwise.”
The chapter chairman also refused to assess the impact of the action. He said: “As long as NEC has not suspended the action, it will be premature to assess the success or otherwise of the action. When the strike is called off, I’ll give my candid assessment.”
At Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, ASUU chair Comrade Yahaya Badeggi said: “The congress at IBBU Lapai resolved that the strike continues until when the National Executive Council of the union decides otherwise. We know they are still negotiating. We shall abide by the decision of NEC.”
On the gains of the action, Badeggi said: “I make bold to say that the action has produced some positive results. From the N100 billion released, our university got N450 million. This would not have been so but for the strike. I believe that at the end of the day, the university system will be better for it.”
The following are the decisions at the various ASUU chapters on the strike.
•University of Benin (UNIBEN). Members unanimously voted for the strike to continue because the Federal Government’s offer omitted some vital segments of the 2009 agreement;
•University of Lagos (UNILAG) teachers want suspension of strike, but will await further directive from the national body after meeting tomorrow in Kano;
•University of Calabar (UNICAL) lecturers voted for the suspension of the strike;
Nasarawa State University, Keffi. ASUU chair Dr. Theophilus Lagi, said: “I can assure you that all members present at the congress today wanted the strike to continue because the documents from the government failed to address the grey areas in contention. We believe there is nothing practicable in the government’s offer, even with the N200 billion it promised to release. Before we can suspend the strike, all unpaid salaries of our colleagues must be paid and there must be solid assurance from the government that no member will be victimised after the strike is eventually suspended;
•Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). When the issue was put to vote, the majority of members wanted an end to the strike, with the agreement that the government must sign a binding document on how it will release the N1.2 trillion it promised to release. They promised to abide by the decision of the NEC in Kano;
•Delta State University (DELSU) members want suspension of the strike.
•Ekiti State University (EKSU) lecturers would not disclose the outcome of the congress until after the NEC meeting tomorrow;
•Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso (LAUTECH). The ASUU local chairman said he would not disclose the outcome of the congress but a lecturer who attended the congress said members were okay with the offer of the government and wanted the strike to end;
•Lagos State University (LASU) chapter supports the strike suspension.
A source who is from ASUU-LASU executive, but pleaded not to be mentioned, said the chapter only gave certain conditions under which the strike should be suspended.