FG reverses varsities’ reopening order, ASUU adamant

The Federal Government rescinded its circular ordering vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors, and governing councils to reopen federal universities on Monday, according to the National Universities Commission.

It was previously reported that a circular labeled NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 was sent to all vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors, and chairmen of federal university governing bodies, directing them to re-open universities.

However, the commission rescinded the directive without giving explanations in another circular titled NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, which was also signed by the NUC Director of Finance and Account, Sam Onazi.

The letter titled, “Withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022,” partly read, “I have been directed to withdraw the National Universities Commission Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, dated September 23, 2022, on the above subject.

“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities, are to take note. Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.”

Meanwhile, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has stated that it has received no formal information on the NUC’s or any government ministry’s demand for resumption.

In an interview, CVCNU Chairman Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo stated that using force on academics would not result in a positive consequence.

According to Edoumiekumo, “Force will not lead to anything meaningful. It will not help. I’m still suggesting that all stakeholders should meet and resolve this issue amicably. If you bring them to school, students will just be roaming up and down, and you will cause more crises.”

Similarly, the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, maintained that members had announced that they were on strike, saying the government had yet to meet their demands.

He said, “We have announced that we are on strike. If they want to reopen, they should reopen. They have taken us to court, and we have also appealed the judgment. Ask them if they have signed the agreements we had with them. Have they implemented our demands?”

Before the release of the withdrawal circular, a senior management member in a high-ranking federal university in the South-West, in an exclusive chat with one of our correspondents in Abuja, had said that in line with the FG’s order to reopen schools, attendance registers would be opened for lecturers to sign in and amended timetables would be released to the public.

The senior member said, “Attendance registers will be opened while amended timetables of events will be made available to students. Notices will also be posted across the board, so no one will say they are not aware.’’

Unpaid bursary, strike

The Federal Ministry of Education noted in a separate report on Monday that the ongoing ASUU strike has hampered the payment of bursaries to university students.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Andrew Adejo, made this known during the 2022 World Teachers’ Day press briefing held in Abuja.

Adejo said, “The implementation of the payment of stipends has commenced. However, due to the strike, we have not been able to get the data of all the students in universities. We only have seven per cent of the required data to be processed for payment.”

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria on Wednesday ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its ongoing nationwide strike embarked on since February 14 to press home its demands.

Unmet demands

The University of Ibadan ASUU Chairman, Prof. Ayoola Akinwole, in a statement on Monday, said there would be no teaching until ASUU’s demands are met and the strike is suspended.

The ASUU boss emphasised, “Our members will have nothing to either do with teaching, supervision or attend statutory meetings until our demands are met and the strike is suspended by the leadership of the union.”

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