The federal government has pleaded with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) not to embark on a fresh strike as its ultimatum expired yesterday.
The minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, who made the appeal in an interview with The Punch, said the government was working hard to secure the release of the money from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and appealed to ASUU to be patient.
The union had asked Nigerians to hold the government responsible if the outstanding issues in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) of December 23, 2020, and matters related to the draft renegotiated agreement of May 2021 are not signed by August ending.
However, ASUU has stated that its National Executive Council (NEC) would meet to weigh available options and consider its next options.
The union had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in December 2020, after the government promised to meet its demands which led to suspension of its nine months strike at the time.
President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who spoke yesterday in Abuja, stressed that the union had never indicated any intentions of embarking on industrial action.
According to him, there are processes for embarking on strike which include due consultations with all ASUU chapters should the government fail to implement its promises to the aggrieved lecturers.
He said: “ASUU never proposed a strike. We said if the government does not meet all our demands by the end of August, the union will meet and consider the action to take. But the country should hold the government responsible for any action we take and that was why we said we didn’t mention embarking on strike.
“The ASUU president cannot just wake up one morning and pronounce we are going on strike, not even the principal officers, we have to go through our branches. The ultimatum will end today so we will hold a meeting with our members to determine the way forward.”
Meanwhile, reacting to the development, the director of press, federal ministry of education, Bem Goong, said he was not surprised that ASUU had trivialised the instrument of strike and become an opposition party in government.
He urged the minister of labour, Dr Chris Ngige to maintain the “no work, no pay” policy to ASUU.
“ASUU was at home for one full year and all the public universities lost a full year, that year can never be recovered,” he said.