The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, on Sunday, dismissed claims that the Union has issued a notice for fresh strike action, saying ASUU has not decided to embark on any industrial action for now.
He stated categorically that he was not aware of any plan to embark on a fresh strike, insisting that the Union is effectively engaging the government and might be meeting with the Federal Government this week, so, “there is no need for all this muscle-flexing”.
Ogunyemi, spoke with Tribune Online while reacting to comments credited to the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in a report where he purportedly faulted ASUU for issuing fresh notice to embark on strike barely four months after calling off a 10-month industrial action.
Nwajiuba was quoted to have said that any person conceiving a strike after close to one year of downing tools would be doing a disservice to students “because the government is a continuum.”
He said it had been difficult for the government to run the lives of over 200 million people with less than $70m a day in earnings.
He said: “Whoever is conceiving a strike after being on a strike for close to one year is damaging the studentship because the government is a continuum. Even if we are not in power today, another government, as the case may be, will be there.
“I have never supported strikes. However, I believe people should press for their demands as responsibly as possible. It is the responsibility of the government to continue to engage them.”
When asked if ASUU should still be patient with the government, Nwajiuba said it depended on the style of the demands.
He said: “It depends on the style of the demands; some of them are what the government can do now, some can be what the government can do later.
“I’m sure you’re aware of the revenue base of the country – 1.5 million barrels are sold. It is difficult to run the lives of over 200 million people with less than $70m a day in earnings. It is amazing that the President has managed to keep the country afloat,” the reported quoted the Minister to have said.
But when ASUU President was contacted on the telephone, he said he was not aware of any notice for a fresh strike as the Union has been in talks with Government on the outstanding issues arising from the last strike action.
He said: “Just like I told you before, we are engaging government. If people are expressing their frustration fine, but certainly not any strike. ASUU has not decided on any strike, so, there is no need for all this muscle-flexing,” Ogunyemi said.
Recall, however, that the Chairman of ASUU, University of Ibadan, Prof Ayo Akinwole, had recently warned the Federal Government of possible fresh industrial action because of failure to remit the deductions it made to the account of the Union.
He had blamed the Federal Government, as well as the Accountant General of the Federation, over what he called the victimisation of ASUU members.
Akinwole had also noted that the Federal Government had refused to pay its members’ salaries despite the ‘no victimisation clause’ of the suspended strike, warning that if pushed to the limit, “withdrawal of work in the nearest future may be inevitable.”
According to him, while its members are back to their duty posts to work, the harsh economy being experienced due to unpaid salaries and non-refund of deducted check-off dues would affect productivity.