The Federal Government, yesterday, begged the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to return to classrooms, as the union insisted that the strike would continue unless agreements between it and government were implemented.
The strike which began last week, entered its second week yesterday, even as the union and Education Ministry officials appear before the National Assembly today.
Minister of Education, Professor Ruqquayat Rufa’i, who made the appeal, said the union should call off its strike in the interest of students.
Rufa’i said: “We are going to meet with ASUU and all those that are concerned at the Senate today. We are going to appear before the Senate and the House Committee on Education and we are pleading with ASUU to go back to classroom and let our children go back to school.”
Speaking to Vanguard, ASUU President, Dr Isa Nasir Fagge Isa, however, said the strike would continue until the Federal Government faithfully implemented agreement in the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU reached between both parties.
He said: “On whether the strike will continue or be called off is dependent on government’s decision. If the government does what is right, I assure you that we will call off the strike immediately, we will look at what government has and we will review the situation.
“We don’t have to inform anybody that we are taking an action when it becomes clear to us that what we are doing cannot make any headway. We looked at all the options available before embarking on the strike.
“I must remind you that a strike is a fundamental right of a worker, if it becomes clear to a worker that the dialogue with his employer is becoming the dialogue of the deaf and dump, the worker has the right to withdraw his services, that is a fundamental right, it is enshrined in the ILO conventions and it is part of the right of Nigerian citizens.
“We have realised that each time we reached an agreement with the government, government finds it difficult to implement the provisions of the agreement and that is the reason our members advised that we just go back to the trenches.
“You should ask the government, out of the nine provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding we had how many have been implemented?
“Out of the provisions, government had been able to implement two which is the “review of the retirement age of academics on the professional cadre from 65 to 70 years and the reinstatement of the governing council of universities”.
“It will be recalled that government without notice dissolved the governing board of universities, and we took it up that, the government action will not favour the university system.
“Of all the problems identified in the Need Assessment report, how many have been implemented? Our universities are still the way they are, we don’t want to continue deceiving ourselves. We expect that dialogue should produce results, we have been dialoguing for one and half years and we are tired of doing that, we want actions”, he insisted.
“What we need to do is to ensure that we implement the recommendations of that report, but sadly, we have had an agreement with the government in 2009 on four issues which include: Funding, University autonomy and Academic freedom and then conditions of service and other matters but four years after, the provisions of the agreement have not been implemented.