The hopes of students and parents for a reopening of public universities was early Monday morning dashed following the decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to extend its nearly 200 days old strike.
Though many sources claim the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the University of Abuja was stormy, the decision of NEC filtered in, amid reports that details will be released later.
The discouraging decision comes as the management of the Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado Ekiti, has annouced the reopening of the institution for academic activities, in defiance of ASUU strike.
Elsewhere, The Punch, is quoting the spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, as explaining that the government had taken all possible steps to end the strike.
He said, “As regards the next steps, the government has already inaugurated a committee to harmonise the IPPIS, UTAS, and UP3. This will ensure that the government will pay with only one payment platform that will harmonise all the technical peculiarities.
“If you bring some demands and almost 80% have been attended to, there is no need to drag the strike anymore.
“It is unreasonable for the strike to be lingering seeing as the government has worked towards fulfilling most of the demands.”
The management of EKSU directed the students to resume academic activities on Monday, 29 August.
However, the ASUU chapter in EKSU says the management is on its own.
The EKSU chapter of ASUU had joined the six month-old strike following the demand by the union for the adequate funding of the universities and implementation of other reforms contained in an earlier agreement with the federal government.
Edward Olanipekun, Vice Chancellor of EKSU, had, last week, hinted that the institution would defy ASUU and reopen the university for academic work.
The President of ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, had also derided state-owned universities which are not on strike, and described them as “quacks.”
The universities are Kwara State University, Lagos State University (LASU), Osun State University, and lately, the Ekiti State University.
“When you are providing data, look at the background. Kwara State University is not a member of ASUU; Osun State University was suspended for its behavior, you can check, LASU you mentioned, we are in court with LASU because they sacked all our executives five years ago so they are not part of this struggle,” Mr Osodeke had said in a television interview last week.
The EKSU Vice Chancellor, told journalists in Ado- Ekiti on Saturday that the decision to reopen for classes was taken by key members of the institution.
“It was a decision taken by the stakeholders about the effect of this prolonged strike on the institution and our position have been made public about our intention to begin work and restore normalcy,” Mr Olanipekun said.
However, a circular by the institution’s Registrar, Ife Oluwole, noted that the resumption is with respect to old students and the newly admitted ones for the 2021/22 academic session.
“Stakeholders in Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, which included the Vice Chancellor and other Principal Officers, Provosts, Deans, Directors, Heads of Departments, Professors and Officers on grade level 14 and above met on Sunday, 21st August, 2022 to review the situation in the University,” the statement read.
“Stakeholders noted the socio-economic effects of the current strike action embarked upon by the staff unions in the University on other stakeholders (parents, students, alumni and staff) and the plea by the parents.
“It further noted that the industrial action is having negative effects not only on the students but also on the University. These include: a) undue prolongation of the academic calendar and the stay of the students on campus; low patronage by candidates seeking admission to the University and inability of Staff to meet up with their financial obligations.
“The negative effects also include inability to pay Staff salaries, among others.
“Participants at the meeting deliberated extensively on the matter and resolved that, in the interest of the teeming population of our students, their parents and the survival of the University, it has become imperative for all members of staff currently on strike in the University to resume normal official activities.
“Consequently, the stakeholders unanimously decided that the University Management should reopen the university without further delay for continuation of academic activities.
“Accordingly, all newly-admitted students for 2021/2022 academic session should also resume on Monday, August 29, 2022 for screening, registration and orientation programme.”
But the EKSU branch Chairman of ASUU, Kayode Arogundade, denied that its members were part of the decision to reopen the institution for academic activities.
He told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday through a message on Whatsapp that ASUU was not in agreement with the decision and so its members would not be resuming for work.
“No, we are not in agreement with the decision,” said Mr Arogundade.
Several talks with the federal government to end the six-month-old strike had ended in a deadlock with ASUU extending the strike.
There are indications that the ongoing strike would be also be extended for another month or two if a deal was not reached between the union and the federal government.
▪︎ Additional report by PREMIUM TIMES