Sunday, 1 December 2013

ASUU strike, a rebellion — Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan says the strike embarked upon by the  Academic Staff Union of Universities since July 1, 2013 over the non-implementation of 2009 agreement with the Federal Government is no longer a trade dispute but a subversive action.
Jonathan said this at the Peoples Democratic Party state caucus meeting at the Government House, Yenagoa. The meeting, presided over by the party chairman in the state, Col. Samuel Inokoba (retd), started late on Friday and ended on Saturday.
The President was reacting to a plea by a former governor of the state, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyesigha, on the December 4 deadline given to ASUU to call off its strike or be sacked.
Alamieyesigha noted that the same date was fixed for the burial of late Prof. Festus Iyayi, who died in a road accident in Kogi State on November 12, en route Kano for the national executive council.
The NEC meeting was meant to deliberate on the latest government offer after meeting with Jonathan on November 4 to the early hours of November 5.
The  former governor, who is also the Chairman Elders Advisory Forum in the state, urged the President to reconsider the date in order not to be seen as insensitive.
President Jonathan said despite holding the longest meeting in his political career with all the highest officers in his administration present including the Vice-President, Minister of Finance, Minister of Labour, Minister of Justice, the Secretary to the Government and the delegation from the Nigeria Labour Congress,  ASUU did not deem it fit to reconsider its stance.
Jonathan said, “What ASUU is doing is no longer trade union. I have intervened in other labour issues before now, once I invite them, they respond and after the meeting they take decision and call off the strike.
“At times, we don’t even give them a long notice unlike in the case of ASUU that was given four days notice before the meeting. As you are meeting to resolve trade disputes, you expect the trade unions to get their officials ready. What was expected having met with the highest authorities in the land for long hours, was for ASUU to immediately issue a statement within 12 or latest 24 hours to state their position whether they were accepting government’s offer or not. And if they are not accepting, they state the reason for that.
“But despite the fact that I had the longest meeting with ASUU in my political history, we did not start that meeting until around 2 pm and the meeting ended the next day in the early hours of the morning. As far as the government of Nigeria was concerned, all the critical people that should be in a meeting were there, so what else do they want?
He added, “After that, they didn’t meet until one week, despite the fact that you met with the highest authority. It was unfortunate one of them, Prof. Iyayi died.
“The way ASUU has conducted the matter shows they are extreme and when Iyayi died, they now said the strike was now indefinite, our children have been at home for over five months.
“We didn’t give them ultimatum; it was the Committee of Vice Chancellors that took that decision. The supervising minister of education only passed on the decision. What ASUU is doing is no longer trade dispute but subversive action. But like you rightly noted so that we will not be perceived to be insensitive, we will consult on the deadline.”
The Federal Government had on Thursday given ASUU one week ultimatum to call off strike or consider themselves sacked.
Meanwhile,the Academic Staff Union of Universities has dared  the Federal Government to reopen the universities.
The ASUU chairman at the Obafemi  Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Adegbola  Akinola, said this in an interview with our correspondent in Osogbo on Friday.
The ASUU chairman said members of the union were unfazed  by the deployment of troops to varsities.
The don said he was not sure that the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, had the consent of President Goodluck Jonathan before issuing the ultimatum.
He stated that the union did not shut the universities but just withdrew services of its members to press home their demands that government should take steps to reverse the decay in the public universities.

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