National President, ASUU, Nasir Issa-Fagee
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Sunday advised parents not to endanger the lives of their children and wards by sending them to their university campuses.
ASUU which also told its members not to sign attendance registers in their institutions, lashed out at the Federal Government for lack of consistency in its statements on the ongoing strike.
The Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, had at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, warned that any ASUU member that failed to resume on or before Wednesday would be sacked.
Wike also directed vice-chancellors to advertise vacancies (internal and external) in their institutions.
He told the vice-chancellors to open attendance registers for lecturers that resumed in their universities.
The Federal Government then directed the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, to deploy policemen in all the federal universities.
On Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan, who described the strike by the university teachers as a “subversive action,” added that ASUU had ceased to be a trade union.
But the Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Dr. Segun Ajiboye, said parents should keep their children and wards at home as no academic activity would resume until the five-month-old strike was called off.
Ajiboye added, “Don’t risk the lives of your children and wards. Keep them at home because ASUU will not teach. Soldiers and the police deployed by the Federal Government will not teach. Wike can come and teach in the universities. It is a huge joke to sack lecturers. Our strike must not be in vain. Our students must see the results.
“It is funny. We thought we are in a democracy. I assure Nigerians that we know what the law says about the strike. Our job is statue backed. We are not threatened. “We do not trust the government. The record of the government is clear. This government is dishonouring agreements. Our members are resolved to pursue this to a logical conclusion.”
Ajiboye also said that the Federal Government’s stance was from a script that was played out by the military administration of Ibrahim Babangida in the 1990s.
He stated, “Dear members, stay calm and remain resolute. There is nothing wrong in asking government to do what it says it will do immediately. ASUU is not making any new demands as the supervising minister is propagating. Government is only repeating a ‘one act play’ scripted by the IBB dictatorship in early 90s. It didn’t work then, and, it won’t work now. All branches are intact. We cannot be intimidated.
“If ASUU could withstand Babangida, this government cannot threaten us. We have worked this road before, the only thing that will work is peaceful resolution. It is sad that government wants to sack us because we are asking for the resolutions. We are ready to be sacked but government should learn from the University of Ilorin experience. We are going to stay the course.”
ASUU President, Dr. Nassir Fagge, urged university teachers on Sunday not to sign any attendance register.
Fagge, in a message to the UI chapter , urged the lecturers to be resolute in their demands despite the threat of insecurity to their jobs.
He said, “Comrades, can you see the unfolding drama? Now Jonathan says they didn’t give ultimatum. That the vice -chancellors did and Wike became their trumpet. But NUC’s (National Universities Commission) ultimatum is by the Federal Government to us to resume or get sacked.
“Wike’s press address says ‘FG has directed’ not ‘VCs have directed.’ Be calm, stay resolute. By God’s grace, we are on course.”
The Chairman, University of Lagos chapter of the union, Dr. Karol Ogbinaka, said Jonathan’s description of the strike as a “subversive action,” was unfortunate.
“How can our action be subversive when we do not have arms and ammunition? We take exception to that. We are academics not coup plotters. I have a feeling he was misquoted. I wish to deny this on his behalf because it is an extreme statement,” Ogbinaka said.
He also faulted the buck passing on the directive to reopen universities, saying it pointed to the fact that the government was “somersaulting.”
According to him, the Federal Government is now shifting the blame among the pro-chancellors, Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Wike.
But the Presidency on Sunday insisted that those behind the strike were enemies of the state.
It said this could be the reason why the ASUU leadership refused to call off the strike even when 42 out of its 61 chapters voted against its continuation.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, stated these at a news conference in Abuja on Sunday.
He wondered why the leadership of the union also refused to call off the strike even after its 13-hour meeting with the President.
Okupe described the strike as an evil programme motivated by selfish political interest.
He said, “The ASUU leadership refused to accede to the wishes of 42 of its 61 chapters nationwide, who voted in favour of the agreement with the President and the calling off of the strike; but in a surprise volte face presented government again with a new set of demands and considerations outside the terms agreed at the presidential intervention.
“From all indications therefore and other information available to government, it has become obvious that this is no longer an altruistic strike borne out of good intentions and aimed at improving the welfare of students and staff of the universities and the standard of our educational institutions.
“Rather it is an evil programme motivated by selfish political interests and motivations within the polity. These are, quoting late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, ‘the enemies of state operating from within’”.
While Okupe was talking tough in Abuja, the All Progressives Congress slammed the government for issuing the sack threat against the university teachers.
In a statement in Lagos, the APC said the resort to military tactics reflected government’s poverty of ideas in resolving the prolonged strike.
The statement by the party’s Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also criticised Wike for the way he talked down on the striking teachers, while issuing the threat.