Academic activities in the nation’s universities were paralysed yesterday as lecturers made good their threat to begin a warning strike.
Classes were empty in University of Ibadan (UI), University of Abuja, University of Uyo, Bauchi State University, University of Lagos, Lagos State University (LASU), and Niger Delta University, Bayelsa.
Students of the Faculty of Education, at UI, who had their examinations postponed indefinitely, were seen in various halls discussing the strike. Their teachers were available, but boycotted classes in faculties of Education, Arts, Science, Technology, Agriculture and the Social Sciences.
The strike also affected statutory meetings and supervision of students.The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the umbrella body for university teachers in the country, which gave prior warning about the industrial action on Monday, said its members would boycott lectures for one week in the first instance, and continue indefinitely if government failed to honour a 2009 agreement regarding their welfare and another 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, bordering on university reforms and yearly release of N200 billion for five years.
ASUU also wants the Federal Government to exclude university funding from the Single Treasury Account (TSA) that delays disbursement due to bureaucracy. “The strike in University of Ibadan achieved more than 90 per cent success on the first day,” said Dr. Deji Omole, the local chairman of the association.
He said the teachers’ union had shown enough understanding with the government and it was high time public education got the deserved attention in the interest of Nigeria’s future.
“This government is almost two years in office and if a government does not take education seriously, I don’t know what it will take seriously,” he said.At the main campus of the University of Abuja few students were seen loitering, as their teachers deserted the classrooms.
Some of the students confirmed that none of the lecturers attended to them. They told The Guardian that they were on campus to begin their registration because the school had just resumed.
An administrative personnel of the university, who craved anonymity, said non-academic staff were not affected by the strike. ASUU chairman at the university, Ben Uheoke, was not on ground, but spoke to The Guardian on telephone, confirming that the lecturers were bent on carrying out the directive of the parent body to the letter. “We are on it,” he said.
The Bauchi State branch of ASUU, said it was disappointed with the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, for not implementing the 2009 agreement especially in the area of staff school, university autonomy and revitalisation.
“The strike is total and comprehensive, no teaching, no examination,no attendance at statutory meetings of any kind, senate, council, college, faculty, departmental boards,” Dr. Aniekan Brown, ASUU Chairman in Uyo, said.
Human and vehicular traffic usually experienced along the Ikpa Road where the Town Campus of the university is located was absent as students and lecturers who got wind of the strike decided to stay at home.
Few students discussing in groups told The Guardian that the strike was wrongly timed, especially as most of them were new on campus and trying to get used to the university environment for the first time.
“The Federal Government should listen to ASUU so that at the end of the one-week warning strike, lecturers could come back to teach us,” one of them volunteered to say.
Most of them who claimed that their parents lived in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and other towns outside the state, wondered how the situation would be if the strike would not be called off at the expiration of ASUU deadline.
The action did not succeed at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) as lecturers held early morning classes. It was not known at press time if lecturers continued in the later part of the day.
Lecturers at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, complied with the one-week nationwide warning strike. The local ASUU chief, Dr Isaac Oyewunmi, said his members’ compliance was total stressing that there was no report of any infraction.
At UNILAG, the same scenario played out as 100 per cent compliance was registered. Chairperson of the ASUU UNILAG Branch, Comrade Adelaja Odukoya said, “We have 100 per cent compliance at UNILAG. We met with the vice chancellor, Prof. Rahamon Bello, and the authorities are not opposing our struggle. We wrote to the administration on Tuesday to inform them we are going on strike and what we had yesterday was full compliance. No vice chancellor can oppose the decision of the union because they understand why we had to embark on strike; the university is the ultimate beneficiary of the purpose of the strike action.”
The story was not different at the Niger Delta University (NDU), where university teachers there equally downed tools.However, Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, appeared before the Senate yesterday to provide detailed information on the extent to which the Federal Government has complied with the agreements it entered into with ASUU.
This was after the intervention by the Senate failed to stop the warning strike. At a meeting with ASUU leadership, the Senate leadership declared its resolve to get all differences between the Federal Government and the lecturers.