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Face your campaign, ASUU tells Nwajiuba, student protests continue

The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Tuesday told the immediate past Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, to face his presidential campaigns and stop interfering in the union’s issues.

This is as university students, angered by the Federal Government’s failure to resolve the impasse with ASUU, vow to continue protests to draw the government’s attention to their plight.

Nwajiuba, who resigned last week due to his presidential ambition, in an interview with The PUNCH, had maintained that state universities shouldn’t have joined the ongoing strike since most of ASUU’s demands were challenges being faced by federal universities.

But, in a reaction to Nwajiuba’s comment on the union’s ongoing strike, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, told The PUNCH that ASUU is a union of all academics in the Nigerian public universities.

Osodeke said, “Nwajiuba doesn’t know anything, he is ignorant. Is Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board conducting exams for federal universities alone? Is National Universities Commission regulating only federal universities?

“He knows nothing, thank God he has left. He should concentrate on his campaign; he should leave ASUU and government alone. He should leave us alone and go and do his campaign to become president.

“When they get TETfund, does it go to federal universities alone? Even NEEDS assessment? When Nigeria Labour Congress negotiates salaries, does it go to federal workers alone? He is trying to get public support by talking about ASUU; he has left us and we have left him and we are not talking about him.”

Meanwhile, students of various Nigerian universities on Tuesday continued their protests against the ASUU’s ongoing industrial action.

In Ile-Ife, Osun State, students, under the aegis of the Great Ife Concerned Students, in collaboration with Fund Education Coalition, threatened to disrupt the state’s July 16 governorship election if schools were not reopened.

The students, who mounted barricades on Ede/Ife Road, Ilesa/Akure and Gbongan/Ibadan expressways for several hours, called on the Federal Government to respect the agreement reached with ASUU.

Speaking with The PUNCH, the Vice President, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Students’ Union, Salvation Aworanti, said, “Our agitations still remain the same. Government should respect agreement reached with ASUU in 2009. They should reopen our schools because we will not allow election to hold in Osun, as far as OAU students are concerned, if they don’t open our school.

In Akure, the Ondo State capital, some military men dispersed a protest embarked on by students of public universities in the state.

The students, who started the protest on Monday, had converged again on Tuesday and barricaded the Akure/Ilesa Expressway, preventing vehicular movements and causing a traffic logjam for several hours.

According to an eyewitness account, after several hours of protests some men in military fatigues, who were travelling along the road in a convoy, met the expressway barricaded by the protesters. The military men, after talking to the students to clear the road for them to no avail, shot into the air to disperse the protesters.

The eyewitness said, “When the soldiers got to the scene and met the road barricaded, some of them came down to speak with the students but they (students) refused to open the road. Suddenly, the soldiers shot into the air to disperse the protesters. Many people around the area also ran helter-skelter for safety. After that, the soldiers cleared the road and their vehicles passed.”

The eyewitness, however, noted that nobody was killed in the incident. The identity of the military men has not been ascertained as of press time, with some saying they were soldiers while others identified them as Airforce personnel.

Why EKSU joined ASUU strike – Zonal chairman

In Ekiti State, the Chairman of ASUU Akure Zone, which comprises four institutions including Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Prof Olufayo Olu-Olu, said on Tuesday that EKSU was part of the strike called by the national body because the academic body was one.

Olu-Olu, a lecturer at EKSU, said state universities including EKSU had benefitted immensely from the joint negotiation with the national body, saying that the state government had not done anything about the ongoing industrial action by the academic staff because it was a national issue.

He said, “It is the joint negotiation with the national ASUU that has helped us to get a lot of the infrastructure and equipment in the state schools including EKSU. All the new structures including the Central Laboratory in EKSU are from the money realised from the Federal Government for the purpose of revitalisation.”

Olu-Olu, also, dismissed Nwajiuba’s comment that state universities have no business joining the ongoing strike, saying, “The former minister knows nothing about ASUU and union matters. ASUU, according to the law establishing us, is one. We have only one ASUU in Nigeria, all the branches are just chapters of a body, that is why ASUU negotiates as one.

“Also, ASUU members, whether in federal or state university, to be candid, operate within the same country, patronise the same market, teach Nigerian students and it is the same policy that is applicable to all the universities!

“Anytime we are negotiating, we negotiate together because we are under the same umbrella, we are just chapters of a larger umbrella. That is why we will forever remain with the national ASUU”.



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