The President himself has, yesterday said that the presidency did not give any ultimatum to lecturers to resume on or before 4th December or get sacked, stating that the decision was that of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors. He however, agreed to consult on the date.
He said this while speaking at an expanded caucus meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party in Bayelsa State yesterday evening.
The President made this statement while answering questions from journalists in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. He said it was the decision of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, not that of the Federal Government and that was the decision the Supervising Minister of Education was quoting, not the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, Skyrocket News had two days ago, contrary to other media reports reported that it was not the presidency who issued that directive but that it was the decision of committee of Vice-Chancellors, quoting Prof. O.O. Amund, the Dean of Students Affairs, Univeristy of Lagos.
In a PDP caucus meeting which took place in Bayelsa yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan debunked media reports that it has issued the ultimatum to university lecturers to return to work, putting it straight that it was the decision of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors.
According to him, “We did not give them ultimatum, it was the Committee of Vice-Chancellors that took that decision, the Supervising Minister only passed on the decision… what ASUU is doing is no longer trade union. I have intervened in other labour issues before now, once I invite them they respond and after the meeting they take decision and call off the strike.”
He said unlike the case with other trade unions ASUU has remained adamant in its demand despite the consideration and commitment of the Federal Government since the strike.
“Atimes we don’t even give them a long notice unlike in the case of ASUU that were given four days notice before the meeting. As you are meeting to resolve trade disputes, you expect the trade unions to get their officials ready, what was expected having met with the highest authority in the land for long hours, was for ASUU to immediately issue statement within 12 or latest 24 hours to state their position whether they were accepting government’s offer or not. And if they are not accepting they state the reason why.”
“But despite the fact that I had the longest meeting with ASUU in my political history, we did not start that meeting until around 2 p.m. and the meeting ended the next day in the early hours of the morning. As far as the government of Nigeria was concern all the critical people that should be in a meeting were there, so what else do they want? After that they didn’t meet until one week, despite the fact that you met with the highest authority.”
“It was unfortunate one of them, Prof. Iyayi died.” He commented.
“The way ASUU has conducted the matter shows they were extreme and when Iyayi died they now said the strike was now indefinite, our children have been at home for over five months”.
Meanwhile, one of the members of the committee of Vice-Chancellors, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. Hayard Mafuyai who spoke with newsmen in Abuja blamed ASUU for the continuing strike. He confirmed that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors has met with the Supervising Minister of Education Mr. Nyesom Wike, reiterating that ASUU should not expect the decay in the education sector to be repaired overnight. He said that the Federal Government has done enough for ASUU and ASUU should call off the strike.
“We just met with the Supervising Minister of Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, and we have been appealing to our colleagues and ASUU to do what we believe should be done, that is to call off the strike, I think the Federal Government has done enough to move the education sector forward as the ills of many decades cannot be corrected overnight and we should listen to the mood of the nation to call-off the strike in the overall public interest of students”. Prof. Hayard Mafuyai said during a media briefing at the end of the year Dinner and Award Night of UNIJOS 1980-1985 Alumni Group in Abuja.
However the President said that they will consult on the December 4th deadline, he made this promise while replying to appeals made by a former Bayelsa state governor, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyesigha to reconsider the deadline, considering that December 4th is also the burial date of the deceased Prof. Festus Iyayi who died on November 12 en route to Kano for the ASUU National Executive Council Meeting.
That President acceded to the request by stating that they would consult on the date in order not to be seen as being insensitive.
Article by Williams Igwe
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