Embattled Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has fixed a meeting of its National Executive Council for Thursday October 13, 2022 to consider the planned call-off of the nine months old strike by lecturers in federal universities across the country.
As a prelude to the NEC meeting, SOJ WORLDWIDE learnt that ASUU branches would commence the traditional voting today to take a position over the ongoing strike by the union.
But the President of ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, has said the association has not formally suspended its eight month old industrial action but would arrive at a decision after following due process.
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SOJ WORLDWIDE gathered from a reliable source in one of the universities that the decision of the various branches would be transmitted to the NEC for a final decision on the strike, which may likely be called off after Thursday’s meeting.
“We have been invited to a meeting of our local branch on Wednesday to be briefed on the outcome of various negotiations, including the interventions by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila regarding our demands.
“We are also expected to take a position based on the issues presented and to vote on our next line of action, whether to suspend the strike or to uphold it,” the source said.
When asked if the lecturers were likely going to accept to call off the strike, the source said the suspension of the strike would be the most likely decision but that where the issues presented fell short of expectations, the national officers had vowed to go to jail for contempt of court rather than call the strike off.
The source said if the federal government agrees to pay off arrears of salaries and in addition, meets about 60 per cent of their demands, ASUU would suspend the strike.
“Yes we are mostly going to end the strike after our meeting, because it has lasted for so long and the students are losing time on their studies,” he said.
Osodeke, in Tuesday October 11, 2022 night, said no such statement on resumption of work by lecturers was issued by ASUU, but that it would hold a press conference to declare its position once the process was concluded.
He said a recent report, which alleged suspension of the strike might have been taken from the position of one of the ASUU branches, which has not been ratified by the national body.
“That statement can’t be correct, because we are not operating a process of top to bottom. We are following our normal process, we start from bottom up, we don’t start from up.
“So, that is what we are doing now when we finish the process, we’ll call you. It can’t be correct now. We have always followed the process. So, if someone saw what a branch did and report it.
“You don’t go to report that a branch said we should suspend and you say that ASUU has suspended. But we are following a process and when it is concluded we will make it known to the public formally,” said Osodeke, who spoke exclusively to Journalists.
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He further said ASUU was yet to receive a copy of the ruling of the Appeal ordering it to resume work.
“And very importantly, we have not got the ruling by the Appeal Court and we only act on ruling and we have not got it. We have applied for the ruling of the Court but we are yet to receive it now. When we get it, we will follow up on it,” he said.
The seeming hope of an end to the strike followed an intervention by the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who held several meetings with the union and the federal government side.
After his fence-mending talks with ASUU, Gbajabiamila took the resolutions to President Muhammadu Buhari for his consideration.
He had expressed optimism that the issues would be resolved and that the lingering ASUU strike would be called off in a matter of days.
Lead counsel to ASUU, Femi Falana, SAN, had also assured Nigerians that the strike would be over in a few days.
ASUU had embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 this year, over what the union described as the failure of the government to implement agreements reached on their demands.
After series of prolonged negotiations with ASUU failed to yield results, the minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige, dragged the striking lecturers to the National Industrial Court, and the Court, on 21 September, 2022 ordered ASUU to call off the strike.