As the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is set to meet today, students leaders across the country have warned of dire consequences that would follow if the union embarks on a fresh strike.
The decision of ASUU to declare an emergency meeting is due to the October 2022 salary cut received by members of the union, few weeks after suspending the prolonged industrial action.
The emergency meeting, according to findings, is to decide whether to embark on another strike or not.
A member of the union who does not want his name mentioned because he is not authorized to speak said, “I can confirm that, ASUU NEC will meet on Monday, November 7, to take a decision on strike or not. This is an aftermath of half-salary paid by the Nigerian government.”
Recall that ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on strike over previous agreements yet to be implemented by the government.
The minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, after what he described as “failed negotiations” dragged the striking lecturers before the National Industrial Court.
The court, on September 21, ordered ASUU to call off the strike and resume duty with immediate effect.
ASUU had appealed the judgement but the Appeal Court also handed down a similar order, asking the striking lecturers to resume academic activities as declared in the earlier judgement and the strike was finally suspended on October 14, 2022.
However, during the strike, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government vowed to sustain its No work, No-pay policy in a bid to force the union back to class.
Meanwhile, following the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, it was reported that the FG had agreed to set the policy aside and pay the arrears.
However, earlier last week, lecturers were paid half salaries for October, a development that may lead to another industrial crisis between the FG and the union. The minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige claimed the half pay was a pro-rata.
But some students’ leaders in the country have expressed worry over the continued crisis in the nation’s tertiary institutions, which is shattering the future of students.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP, the national president, Nigerian Association of Science Student (NASS), Agbatemiro Raphael Akintomide said the 8-month strike had already shattered the dreams of many students and a fresh strike would have dire consequence on the country.
He said the Nigerian students will never accept any delay or any further ASUU strike to come on board again, while urging the government to stop going into agreements it cannot fulfil.
“First, the eight months strike is something I wasn’t happy about. I have been part of the system and I was not happy at all and during that period, I was able to issue out statements and press releases, I was able to mobilise some of my students to protest and ensure that the ASUU strike was called off, even before now.
“But it is so alarming that a country of ours that has a government that even the vice president is a professor and yet we can’t solve our educational crisis. It is something that is alarming and is condemnable by every student.
“And the most annoying part is that we are hearing recently that they are about to embark on another strike and I’m using this medium to tell the public and the entire Nigerian students that we can’t take it, we can’t allow it.
“Destinies have been delayed, destinies have been shattered. We have lost so many members during the strikes, many of our girls were impregnated during the strike, a lot of activities have taken place that shattered and battered the destinies of Nigerian students.
“So, we won’t allow such to happen again and I want to call on the federal government, His Excellency, the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari that he should please do everything possible and even the red chamber, the National Assembly, the House of Representatives, they should do everything possible to ensure that they secure the destinies of Nigerian youths.
“I remember history told us that in their own time they passed through this system free of charge, as a matter of fact, they were fed and paid. Now we are paying for it and they are depriving us. Is something that we can’t accept any longer. It has to stop.”