The ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities has entered its seventh month. The union, on February 14, 2022, embarked on a strike following what it described as the failure of the government to meet some of its demands.
The union is calling on the government to improve the condition of service of university lecturers, release earned allowances for lecturers, and release revitalisation funds for universities, among other things.
Meanwhile, the leadership of ASUU met with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors of Universities on Wednesday over the lingering strike.
One of our correspondents gathered that the meeting was proposed by the peace team set up by the vice-chancellors.
The peace team comprises past vice-chancellors and pro-chancellors such as the former pro-chancellor of the University of Calabar, Senator Nkechi Nwagogu; former vice-chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Prof J.D. Amin; and former vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Emeritus Professor A.O. Bamiro, among others.
A source familiar with the matter, who did not want his name in print as he was not permitted to speak to the press, noted, “The meeting was originally proposed by the peace team that was set up by the committee of vice-chancellors.
The meeting was held at the National Universities Commission, and all the issues were raised, the issue of funding, that is, the release of the revitalisation fund, the withheld salaries, adjustment of salaries and most importantly ending strikes permanently in universities.”
When asked if the union accepted the demands, the source said, “It was not a negotiation meeting; the VCs and the Pro-chancellors are not from the government’s side; to me, they just came to share their opinions on the matter.”
Meanwhile, former vice-chancellors, in a communiqué made available to media in Abuja on Wednesday, hailed the Federal Government for approaching the National Industrial Court in a bid to end the strike.
The communiqué partly read, “We are aware that the Federal Government has sought a legal interpretation of the nature and character of the dispute as a way of breaking the deadlock.
“This is novel, and we applaud the move as civilized, however, both parties will faithfully abide by the provisions of Industrial Arbitration as enshrined in the International Labour Organisation Conventions.”
They proposed a middle ground where the government can resolve the trust issues by taking action to propose to the National Assembly its decision on improved funding.
ILO wades in
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the International Labour Organisation’s Country Director, Vanessa Phala, has stated that the organisation is providing technical assistance to the government to ensure that labour laws are amended.
She disclosed this at the 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference, organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, on Wednesday in Abuja.
FG faults roadblocks
The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said protesting students who blocked a traffic-laden section of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway are “violating” the law.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said this when briefing State House Correspondents shortly after this week’s Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
NANS justifies roadblocks
However, NANS has threatened the continuous blocking of major highways in Southwest states until the federal government yields to their demands by ending the ongoing strike.
NANS South-West Coordinator, Emmanuel Olatunji, who spoke exclusively with NNL, said, “We know the protest might lead to suffering for other road users. We decided to do that because we knew that our parents were doing nothing. We want them to also feel the heat; we are sending a signal to the federal government and our parents.
“We will protest at different locations where we know that it might affect the federal government. After doing this protest at two to three major highways, then we will move the protest to government parastatals.”