ASUU In Make-Or-Break NEC Meeting As More State Varsities Reopen

Nigerians are awaiting the outcome of a make-or-break National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over its more than six months old strike as more state universities deflate the severity of their action.

The NEC meeting slated for Sunday night/Monday morning will decide on whether the union would continue the strike that has left most public universities in the country under lock and key.

However, a reliable source within the union said that barring any last-minute change of mind, the union would continue the industrial action.

Sources said the meeting commenced as scheduled, adding that the atmosphere at the University of Abuja venue had remained charged since last night.

Recall that ASUU had last week directed its zones and branches to organise congresses following the deadlocked meeting between it and representatives of the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, other public university unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have suspended their actions for a few months to allow the Federal Government look into their demands.

Besides, some state universities have backed out of the strike and subsequently ordered their old and new students to resume today.

 A fresh student of Management Studies at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Maryam Popoola, who spent a few days of resumption before the commencement of the strike 199 days ago, pleaded with the government and union for a truce to allow her and others to go back to school.

“I have prayed over this strike and I am trusting that Allah will answer my prayers. You have always encouraged me that the strike will be called-off months and months, I hope the end of the strike is today,” she told our correspondent.

At the Akoka main campus of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), a food seller and shuttle bus operator, told Daily Independent lamented the effects of the strike on their businesses and life generally within the campus and surrounding neighbourhoods.

The food seller, Ann Egbuna, who runs two shops within and off campus said she had been recording losses due to low patronage.

Tunde Eteka, a bus operator, said he was nearly lynched for using the bus along unauthorised route.

“I was on my way home in Ikorodu and decided to pick passengers along the road. I was stopped by union boys and it became an issue. I was saved by an armed team of uniformed men on patrol. Thank God,” he said.

Following the statement credited to Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the ASUU National President, on state universities as quacks, there are indications that some concerned state governments might force university unions to end the strike.

There are indications that the Taraba State University, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Tai Solarin University of Education and universities owned by the Ondo State government may also announce reopening of schools for full administrative activities and academic learning.

Recall that the authorities of the Ekiti State University (EKSU) had on Thursday ordered old and fresh students to resume learning today.

The Registrar of the University, Mr. Ife Oluwole, in a statement said stakeholders in the university, met to review the situation.

He said they noted the socio- economic effects of the current strike embarked upon by the staff unions in the university on other stakeholders (parents, students, alumni and staff).

The registrar noted that participants at the meeting deliberated extensively on the matter and resolved that in the interest of the teeming population of students, their parents and the survival of the university, it has become imperative for all members of staff currently on strike at the university to resume normal activities today.

However, as stakeholders await the outcome of the ASUU NEC meeting, the African Action Congress (AAC) has described the planned clampdown on the union by the Federal Government as outrageous and unacceptable.

The party also berated the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, for thinking of handing over federal universities to state governments.

The party, in the statement signed by Onyinye- Gandhi Chukwunyere, AAC Presidential Campaign Spokesperson, said the proscription threat is not only draconian but an unconstitutional measure to blackmail and bully ASUU into submission.

It maintained that the crisis in the nation’s educational sector was merely a reflection of the larger, multi-sectoral failures of the APC, in which its holds on power had been an absolute nightmare for the Nigerian people.

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