The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has alleged that Federal Government was employing blackmail to force lecturers back to class as it was afraid youths might take to the streets in protest against the ongoing industrial action by its members.
ASUU branch in Akure, however declared that no amount of blackmail would make the union call off the ongoing industrial action, unless its members were paid their due salaries.
While urging Nigerians to intervene in the impasse in the interest of the students, ASUU claimed the government was not interested in ending the strike and acceding to the demands of the striking lecturers.
Speaking to journalists at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, the ASUU coordinator, Akure Zone, Prof Olu Olufayo, noted that the Federal Government had stopped negotiation with the lecturers until the recent eruption of violence during #EndSARS protests.
Also at the briefing were Dr Olayinka Awopetu, who is ASUU chairperson, Federal University of Technology, Akure; Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, ASUU Chairperson, OAU; and Dr. Kayode Arogundade, ASUU Chairperson, Ekiti State University.
Olufayo said, “Our students have stayed at home for too long; they have been at home for almost a year now. Don’t forget we didn’t send them home. We embarked on strike before the advent of coronavirus. Don’t forget #EndSARS protests. It was at that point that the government realised that students should not have been idle.
“So, that must have made the government to ask us to resume negotiation. All through the period coronavirus was strong, we were not called for negotiation. But now, government wants us to return to class and engage the students. If we return to class now, what are we going to do there? I can’t teach when I don’t have money to feed myself.
“Also, during #EndSARS protest, the youths also said they wanted to end bad governance. Students in universities in Kwara State have given the government two weeks ultimatum to resolve issues with ASUU and reopen schools, otherwise they would return to the streets. That must have scared government and they told us to return to the classroom. But how can we resume without being paid?”
ASUU, Nsukka Zone, also lambasted the federal government, describing its decision to go to court at the time negotiation was ongoing as an aberration.
Dr Igbana Ajir, the Zonal Coordinator, who stated this during the press briefing held in Makurdi, said that the court action would complicate issues.
Members of the union at the Port Harcourt also vowed to sustain the eight-month-old strike, saying that no amount of blackmail by the government would make them call off the industrial action.