THE Federal Government said on Tuesday that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) did not follow due process in the declaration of an industrial action.
This was as it, however, appealed to ASUU to suspend its ongoing strike in the universities in the interest of the nation.
This came as the Federal Government invited the leadership of ASUU to an emergency meeting, in a move to end the strike.
The meeting, held at the Conference Room, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Secretariat, Abuja, could not achieve anything tangible and was rescheduled for tomorrow.
A statement from the ministry late last night, signed by the Deputy Director in the ministry, Samuel Olowookere, said the meeting took steps towards the resolution of the issues raised by ASUU.
“Particularly, the meeting agreed on the forensic audit of the sum of N30 billion earlier given to ASUU in 2010 and further agreed on monthly remittances to ASUU while the audit lasts,” the statement read.
Earlier, Ngige had, in a statement signed by Olowookere, on Tuesday, said there was an ongoing renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU by the Dr Wale Babalakin-led committee.
“The Federal Government has set up the Babalakin-led committee on February 13, which is already addressing the issues raised by ASUU.
“Though the Federal Government did not wish to apportion blame, it is important to note that ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action, as it did not give the Federal Government the mandatory 15 days notice as contained in the Section 41 of Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, 2004.
“In fact, it was on August 14 that the office of the minister received a letter dated August 13 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it commenced the strike,” he said.
He, however, noted that the letter was to inform the Federal Government that ASUU had commenced strike, adding that this was not a declaration of intention to go on strike as contained in the Trade Dispute Act, 2004.
He further said that since the case was being conciliated, it was against the spirit of social dialogue and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for ASUU to embark on strike as enunciated in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention.
“The Federal Government, therefore, wishes to appeal to ASUU to consider students who are currently writing degree and promotion examinations. Please, call off the strike and return to the negotiation table,” the minister said.
The minister added that the ministry would ensure that a time frame was tied to negotiation this time round.
Ngige added that the Babalakin-led committee was ready to continue the negotiation.
He also noted that the necessary ingredients for fruitful social dialogue as well as adequate powers to negotiate and make recommendations to the Federal Government had been put in place.
Kaduna varsity joins strike
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Kaduna State University (KASU) chapter, on Tuesday joined the nationwide indefinite strike declared by the union.
The ASUU chairman, Dr Tukur Abdulqadir, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna, that he would ensure total compliance.
He said that apart from the issues raised by the national body of the union which led to the nationwide strike, the local chapter also had problems with Kaduna State government.
According to him, the introduction of Treasury Single Account by the government had also placed the university at a disadvantage, as it had to go begging to get its money released to it.
Some students of the institution described the strike embarked by ASUU as “unfortunate.”
We are committed to the strike —UNILAG chairman
Chairman of Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, said lecturers in the institution were committed to the strike embarked upon by the national body.
The chairman, in an interview with Nigerian Tribune said UNILAG was committed to the strike.
UNILAG-ASUU monitoring team had earlier on Tuesday stormed the school premises and went round to ensure there was a total compliance.
UI ASUU inaugurates strike monitoring committee
In its effort to ensure total compliance to the strike declared by the national body, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Ibadan chapter, on Tuesday, inaugurated a strike monitoring committee in order to enable effective prosecution of the strike.
The committee was headed by Professor Gbenga Olujide and empowered to ensure that no member of the union engages in any sabotage or does anything that can jeopardise the collective interests of the union while the strike lasts.
The UI ASUU chairman, Dr Deji Omole, who made the announcement at a well-attended congress of the union on Tuesday, stated that the union “was pushed to the wall before taking the painful decision to embark on the strike after giving government sufficient time to attend to her demands without positive results.”
According to Omole, “all examinations in the university stand suspended as well as all other academic activities, including delivery of inaugural lecture.”
OAU, UNILORIN defy ASUU’s strike order
The University of Ilorin, Kwara State, has again defied the directive by the National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities to commence a total and indefinite strike.
For years, it has been customary for UNILORIN not to partake in national strikes called by ASUU; but it appears the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU, Osun State, chapter is also not partaking in the current industrial action, as the semester examination that started on Monday is still going on as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Students Union President of the university, Mr Edward Ibukun, confirmed to Nigerian Tribune on telephone that “the students community is not being affected, and our exams still continue.”
This development was also confirmed by a senior officer of the university management who would not want to be named.
The situation was, however, not the same in other universities Nigerian Tribune called on Tuesday, as the strike had totally paralysed academic activities and students had started leaving the campuses.
Nigerian Tribune can authoritatively report that compliance with the strike order is complete at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko and the Federal University of Technology, Akure, both in Ondo State; as well as Ekiti State University and Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, in Ekiti State.
Semester examination at the University of Jos, Plateau State, which had been on for a while, will be rounded off today, and a congress will be held. But this is only a formality, as, Nigerian Tribune gathered that the local chapter is set to fully comply with the strike order afterwards.
The local chapter of ASUU at the Lagos State University, Ojo, is also expected to hold its statutory congress today during which its compliance with the strike will be ratified.