By Douglas Okoro
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (AEFUNAI), Ebonyi chapter, says it will cover grounds lost to the eight-month called off in October.
The union, therefore, appealed to stakeholders to prevail upon the Federal Government to “avoid engaging in any activity that could plunge the nation’s public university system into another needless strike”.
The lecturers’ body disclosed this during a peaceful protest on Wednesday.
Dr Egwu Ogugua, the ASUU-AEFUNAI chairperson, while addressing newsmen, said that the lecturers were duty-bound to complete teaching for the backlog of academic semesters and sessions lost due to the strike.
He alleged that government, instead of working to find a permanent solution to the crises in the universities, had resorted to the implementation of policies that would worsen the situation.
He recalled that the ASUU strike was suspended based on the intervention of Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the court order.
“Ladies and gentlemen, recall that on October 14, ASUU decided to suspend their eight-month strike following the intervention of Mr Femi Gbajabiamila and the Appeal Court ruling ordering us to go back to work.
“It is important for the world to know that since the said intervention and the court order, government has not paid lecturers for eight months and decided to casualise intellectuals by prorating our October salaries.
“We, the members of ASUU, AEFUNAI branch, therefore, reject in totality, this alien casualisation of intellectuals, demeaning the centrality of the ivory towers in Nigeria and insulting the sensibilities of the intelligentsia.
“Yes, we were in the trenches for eight months – February 14 to October 14, now that we are back, we are duty-bound to complete teaching for the backlog of academic semesters and sessions lost due to the strike.
“The word ‘lost’ does not entail a permanent loss because most officials of the federal government have consistently believed in the alternative truth that the lost semesters have been lost permanently.
“In AEFUNAI, following the suspension of the strike action, we have almost concluded the remaining first semester of the 2021/2022 academic session.
“We are under enormous pressure to complete the whole session before April and commence the 2022/2023 session.
“We use this opportunity to appeal to well-meaning Nigerians and various stakeholders – religious leaders, traditional rulers, parents, students – to prevail on government not to further desecrate the sanctity of the future of our children,” Ogugua said.
He accused the federal government of not placing the education sector among high-priority areas.
He lamented that government’s decision to place university lecturers on pro-rata would deepen the crisis in the entire public university system.
“It is worthy to note that the recently released November salaries have recorded a high degree of deductions.
“As a people, we shall not keep quiet and we shall continue to scream like the voice in the wilderness for the survival of the public university system in Nigeria.
“If the body of intellects is shabbily treated, then we can sing to the rooftops that government has no regard for education,” he stated. (NAN)