There was partial compliance by universities across the country on Monday with the nationwide strike called by the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Sunday.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, had on Sunday announced the union’s decision to go on an indefinite strike.
Ogunyemi said the union was embarking on strike following the failure of the Federal Government to implement the Memorandum of Action it signed with ASUU.
Despite the strike, however, academic activities continued on Monday at the Taraba State University, Jalingo.
Checks by one of our correspondents, who visited the university campus, revealed that lecturers were busy with classes and other academic activities.
But when contacted on the telephone, the Chairman of ASUU, Taraba State University chapter, Dr Samuel Shiikaa, explained that he was on his way to Jalingo after attending ASUU’s meeting in Akure, Ondo State where the national ASUU took the decision to go on strike.
Shiikaa said Taraba State University would join the strike.
He said, “I am still on my way to Jalingo from Akure where we held the meeting and the decision to embark on the strike was taken.
“We will hold our local congress hopefully tomorrow (Tuesday) to declare the strike; it’s a collective decision and we all are going to abide by it.”
Some of the students including Theophilus Akinde, Ella Audu and Mohammed Sani, who spoke to one of our correspondents, lamented the strike and called on the Federal Government to invite the union for a discussion to forestall the negative effects of the strike.
Akinde said, “Some departments are billed to start examination this month while undergraduates are supposed to start and end their examination in January before the elections.
“With this strike now, we are not sure of when session will end.”
At the Umaru Musa Yaradua University, Katsina State, where ASUU members could not join the nationwide strike on Monday, because they were awaiting the arrival of their leaders who attended the Akure meeting some of the students called on the Federal Government to settle the matter with ASUU.
Our correspondent, who was at the institution, reported that academic activities were not hampered, despite the strike by ASUU.
A member of the union, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, explained that, “It is our leaders who went for the Akure meeting who will properly call another congress here where a referendum would be taken by members on whether to join the strike or not.
“As of now, we are still awaiting the arrival of our leaders who went to Akure and we wish them safe arrival. Until they are around, there is nothing we can do.’’
At the Federal University of Akure and the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa the strike had no effects as the institutions were not in session.
Checks by The PUNCH revealed that students of the two institutions are on holidays as the academic session had reportedly ended in the varsities.
A source at FUTA told one of our correspondents on Monday that the strike had commenced in the university but the academic activities were not affected due to the end of the academic session.
He said, “Though the strike has started here, we are lucky that the 2017/2018 academic session has ended.
“So, the strike will not tell on the students as the students are not in school currently.”
Similarly, it was gathered that academic session in OSUSTECH had ended and the students had vacated campus.
A lecturer in the institution, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the strike had started at the school but it might not have effect on the academic activities because the school was not in session.
However, the Chairman of ASUU at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Dr Sola Fayose, said the chapter had directed all the members to join the strike in line with the directive of the national body of the union.
“In line with the principles of our union, we just have to obey the directive of our national body.
“So, our congress met today (Monday) to take the report from NEC and the strike has started at AAUA,” Fayose stated.
At the Federal University, Dutsinma, and the Al Qalam University, both in Katsina, the lecturers said they don’t belong to ASUU.
At the University of Lagos, Akoka the strike did not take full effect on Monday.
The University of Benin, Edo State, on the other hand, was reported to have stopped all forms of academic activates.
Even though most students of UNILAG had gone on holidays, students in the College of Medicine, particularly those in Medicine and Surgery, who had clinical and pre-clinical classes, were in school.
According to a student of the school, Ola Adebisi, who spoke with one of our correspondents, it was business as usual in the College of Medicine, especially for those who had clinical classes with doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. “Nothing really is happening; everything (classes) held as far as I can tell,” he said.
However, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, who did not want his name in print, said he was marking examination scripts ahead of the institution’s resumption on November 19.
Meanwhile, at UNIBEN even though the school is not in session, postgraduate students who were to have classes had to return home as lecturers did not go to class.
According to a lecturer in the university, Dr Daniel Ekhareafo, the strike had commenced in the school.
“I came to school in shorts; we have completely downed tools. However, it does not affect non-academic staff,” he said.
The Chairman of UNIBEN chapter of ASUU, Prof Julius Iyasele, said members of the union would would comply with the decision to go on strike.
Iyasele said, “We are already aware because the national (body) has declared the strike. By 10am tomorrow (Tuesday), we will have a congress. After then, we expect our people to go (on strike).”
At Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, the ASUU chapter in the institution disowned a lecturer, Prof Suny Edeko, who refused to join the strike.
The chapter said Edeko was not its member, adding that he had been suspended for anti-union activities.
Edeko had reportedly in a piece, titled, ‘Why I WILL NOT GO ON STRIKE,’ which he shared on his Facebook page, said he would not take part in the strike as it was an “outdated means of negotiation”.
He argued that poor funding by government was not peculiar to the education sector.
“Strike, no matter how strong, can never end plans to increase school fees or establish education bank meant for the interest of students. Should these deserve a strike that will further destabilise the already destabilised academic calendar?
“I think it does not deserve strike. But it deserves negotiations without strike,” Edeko ws quoted to have said,
But the Chairman of the chapter, Dr Monday Igbafen, described the professor’s comments as “inconsequential”.
The ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, told The PUNCH on Monday that ASUU strike was not a solidarity strike with the strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress, stressing that even if the NLC called off its strike, ASUU would go on.
Ogunyemi said, “ASUU has only resumed its strike action; it is not a fresh strike. It is the continuation of an action we suspended in September 2017, which means our action predated that of the NLC. We were forced to go back to it because it appears that the government is just dribbling us.
“Weeks and months are rolling by and we don’t think ASUU is an organisation you can just toy with, because this is about the future of Nigeria and Nigerian children.
“So, we were forced to resume our strike action. It is not a solidarity strike. Our strike was there before the NLC issues came up.”