The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has hinted at the possibility of embarking on nationwide strike as the national leadership of the union has directed its members nationwide to declare lecture-free day on Monday, February 7, in preparation for a possible showdown with the federal government.
According to ASUU, a lecture-free day has been declared for it’s members to sensitise the public on its case with the Buhari government and the planned strike.
ASUU national president, Emmanuel Osedeke, a professor, confirmed the directive and also that the national body had instructed all the chapters to sensitise the public “on the nobleness of its cause”.
“We are going to have a meeting that day, we will invite as many people as possible to talk about the issue of Nigerian education.”
Multiple circulars issued by the various branches of the union announcing the decision, noted that the lecture-free day will be used to sensitise the university communities and the general public on the failure of the government to honour an agreement the parties entered into in December 2020, and which led to the suspension of a nine-month prolonged strike then.
The new threat comes less than a week after President Muhammadu Buhari pledged the commitment of his administration to fulfilling the agreement with the union.
Mr Buhari made the promise when members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) visited him to share thoughts with him on the lingering issues.
While making the pledge, Mr Buhari, however, pleaded with the union to exercise patience and consider current economic realities.
The last national strike by ASUU was in March 2020 and lasted till December when the Memorandum of Action (MoA) was signed.
However, a year after signing the MoA, ASUU accused the government of failing to fulfil its side of the bargain and threatened to mobilise for another strike immediately.
The government quickly moved to pay N55 billion as part-payment for the Earned Academic Allowance and Revitalisation Fund, but the union was unmoved until the Nigerian Inter-religious Council (NIREC) and other dignitaries waded in.
ASUU said the Nigerian government has only addressed, partially, two of its eight demands, including the visitation panel to federal universities. He described the release of funds for the Earned Academic Allowance and revitalisation funds as ‘partial’.
Mr Osodeke said: “Out of all the nine or eight issues, they attempted one or two things, even the issue of the visitation panel they said they set up till now the result is not out after more than one year.”