ASUU strike: Nigerian students abort nationwide protests over court order directing lecturers to resume

Nigerian students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NAS) have called off their planned nationwide protests over the ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NCI), which, Wednesday, September 21, 2022, ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resume academic activities.

Recall, on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, NANS in a circular signed by its President-Elect, Usman Barambu, had directed all its zones, from Zone A to F, to proceed with protests in a sequential manner from September to October 11, 2022.

However, Barambu, in another statement, Wednesday, directed the structures to stand down all protests, appealing to ASUU to resume work as ordered by the court, saying it “is a progressive way forward.”

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The statement read, “I convey to you solidarity greetings from the leadership of NANS. I am also pleased to congratulate all Nigerian students for standing out during the impasse between ASUU and the Federal Government.

“Let me also commend the resilient, doggedness and commitment displayed by students throughout the period the strike has lasted for seven months. I urge you all to consider your actions as a struggle for the emancipation of our educational sector. It’s a win-win situation, victory at last.

“May I also use this opportunity to also urge the Federal Government to fulfill it’s own part of the negotiation as we anticipate a smooth outcome in the negotiating process, in line with the order of the National Industrial Court issuing an order for ASUU (our lecturers) to return to the classrooms. I, hereby, stand down all NANS protest nationwide.

“More also, may I use this singular privilege to appeal to our dear lecturers that the court order is a progressive way forward to achieve a positive results at the negotiation table for it is a win-win for all. We hope and believe ASUU will ace the court ruling in good faith as it affects the future of our dear country.

“Finally, may I appeal to all parents and guardians to assist our students as they prepare to resume for their academic pursuit,” the statement said.

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Meanwhile, the federal government has said it will continue to negotiate with ASUU in spite of Wednesday’s court ruling restraining the union from continuing with its seventh-month strike.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, made the Federal Government’s position known when he hosted visiting members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics.

“The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations,’’ he said.

ASUU began its strike to demand that the Federal Government revisits some agreements signed between them in 2009 and also to improve on varsity funding and payment of earned allowances.

The lecturers also want the Federal Government to shelve its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in paying lecturers’ salaries. The Federal Government uses the IPPIS platform to pay its employees.

They demanded that rather than its IPPIS, the government should adopt the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, the payment platform designed by the universities themselves to pay lecturers.

According to him, the ruling is a win-win for the government, students, lecturers and for all Nigerians.

“It is a no victor, no vanquished. You doctors in academics are for now members of ASUU, but you are here; even though you have dissociated yourselves and you are working.

“We want to thank you for working and teaching your students,’’ the minister said.

He noted that pro-chancellors of universities had met with President Muhammadu Buhari and made some demands that included topping up the government’s offer and seeing whether there could be some bailout.

Ngige added that the president had assured that he would consult with stakeholders on the request.

The minister also commended the House of Representatives for intervening in the ASUU imbroglio.

Ngige said that he was happy that the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila also assured that principal officers of the House would meet with President Buhari over the strike.

He explained that whatever money would be approved to meet some of the demands would go into the 2023 budget.

“Since the House has shown interest now, it is good and wonderful. When they bring that proposal, the Executive will not have any problem.

“ASUU should also know that this is a step in the right direction. All these things have been promised to them by the Minister of Education at their last meeting.

“For me, they should do the needful and go back to the classroom,’’ the minister said.

Ngige said the government would soon direct vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the order of the court.

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