Confusion is currently brewing in some universities as the authorities and students are to resume for lectures despite the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), well in its over four months.
Indeed, moves to end the strike, which began on July 2, 2013, had reached a peak with the negotiations between President Goodluck Jonathan and ASUU team, which included the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) President, Abdulwaheed Omar, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Bala Kaigama, besides the current ASUU President, Nasir Fagge, and other past presidents of the union, but the death of Professor Festus Iyayi, a past leader of the union, stalled the ASUU National Executive Council meeting scheduled for Kano where the decision to end the strike would have been taken.
Amid the confusion, however, many university authorities and students are pushing for the reopening of their institutions in defiance to the ASUU position that the strike is still in force.
Specifically, some academic staff at the Niger State-owned Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (IBBUL), have commenced teaching.
This has caused some rancour among ASUU as some lecturers and students have returned to the classrooms since Monday following the re-opening of the institution by the management.
But the branch ASUU Chairman, Dr. Aliyu Badeggi, insisted that the strike was still in force in the institution.
Investigations by Daily Newswatch showed that lectures have resumed only in three departments – English and Linguistics, Mathematics and Physics, while Mass Communication, Business Administration and other Sciences were yet to resume lectures.
The Vice Chancellor, Professor Ibrahim Kolo, had last Friday directed students to resume lectures on Monday, after an emergency Senate meeting approved the re-opening of the institution.
The development has now put students in dilemma as majority of the students compiled with the directive, while some were yet to resume because of the stalemate.
It was also gathered that some of the students that returned were yet to have any lecture, as most lecturers are still complying with the ASUU strike.
When Daily Newswatch visited the institution yesterday, some students were seen loitering in the campus for lack of what to do.
The students revealed that those who are currently having lectures were for General Studies’ courses and not the core courses, stressing that majority of the lecturers were still on strike.
Abubakar Nda-Patigi, a 300 level Mass Communication student, complained that lectures were yet to commence in his department. “We were elated when the school management re-opened the school, but we have not done anything since Monday that we resumed in my department.”
A lecturer, who spoke in confidence, blamed the crack among the members of ASUU of the institution on some few lecturers that were cajoled by the management, insisting that the strike was still in force.
“We are aware of the management moves to break our ranks. Even if we are only 10 lecturers that remain, we shall stand by the union,” he said.
However, the strike has taken another twist at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State, as ASUU said it was ready to slug it out with the school authorities over the resumption order.
The AAUA management, in a statement issued by the Registrar of the institution, Mr Bamidele Olotu, announced that the school will resume for Second Semester of 2012/2013 Session on Monday, November 25, 2013, while lectures are to start on Monday, December 2, 2013.
The memo implies that the lecturers and the students of the institution must resume for academic activities by the stipulated date.
However, the ASUU urged the students and lecturers to ignore the order, saying the lecturers would not resume until the national body of the union gave the resumption order.
According to a statement issued and signed by the Chairman of the AAUA branch of the ASUU, Dr. Busuyi Mekusi, yesterday, members of the union were asked to disregard the resumption order.
The statement said as far AAUA branch of the ASUU was concerned, the status quo remained until they receive a new directive from the national body of the union.
“The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba -Akoko branch, wishes to dissociate itself from the purported resumption of academic activities in the university, as its members are still part of the ongoing national strike by the union.
“Members should, therefore, disregard any pull to abandon the struggle, and be steadfast until the present position is reviewed by NEC,” Mekusi said.
The union also declared that it would “resist every tyrannical propensity” to intimidate and harass its members by the institution authority.
But Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State yesterday called on players in the education sector, including the Federal Government and striking lecturers to rededicate themselves to the pursuit of excellence at the tertiary level in honour of the former President of ASUU, Professor Festus Iyayi.
The governor, in a statement by Felix Ofou, his press secretary, said the highest honour that the late Iyayi deserved was the return to the pursuit of academic excellence in the universities and other higher institutions, arguing that anything short of this would have meant that the late activist died in vain.
Uduaghan recalled the heroic struggle and sacrifice of the late professor and author for the working class as well as the university system, adding that the history of strikes and strive for higher academic goals in the country cannot be complete without glowing references to the part played by the deceased.
The governor, an alumnus of the University of Benin, paid glowing tributes to his alma mater for providing a place of pride for the renowned poet, author and academic colossus who engineered new heights and defined the intellectual and working class struggle in a manner never experienced before his time.
He commiserated with the family of the deceased, UNIBEN, the people of Edo State, ASUU, the academic community and the nation at large on the painful loss and asked God to grant them the fortitude to bear the untimely passage of such a titanic labour leader.