Against the wish of disgruntled members of the Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Federal Government has ordered Vice Chancellors of public universities in the country to reopen and commence lectures.
The order was contained in a letter signed by the Director, Finance and Accounts of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Sam Onazi, on behalf of its Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Rasheed and made available to the Press on Monday, September 26, 2022.
The letter which was addressed to all Vice-Chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and Chairmen of governing councils of federal universities, read in part:
“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”.
ASUU, embarked on strike since February 14, 2022 to press home the demand for improved funding for universities, a review of salaries for lecturers, among other issues.
All the meetings between ASUU and the federal government had ended in a deadlock.
Consequently, the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, went to court to challenge the strike and the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) ruling in the government’s favour, on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, ordered ASUU to call off the strike.
However, ASUU’s lawyer, Mr Femi Falana SAN, argued that the minister lacked the power to order the court in the referral to direct ASUU to call off its strike. Adding that, once a referral was before a court, no party could go outside of it.
While dismissing objections ASUU raised through its lawyer, Mr Falana, the court held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.
“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.
The court, thereafter, issued an order, restraining ASUU, “whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”
In response, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in a statement released by the union national PRO, Giwa Yisa Temitope on Wednesday, described the judgment as “Black Market”, insisting that the only solution to end the seven months old strike was for the Nigerian government to fulfil the agreement between them and ASUU.
Also, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osadeke while speaking on Channels Television on the same day said they would appeal the Court’s ruling and not call off the strike.
ASUU and NANS are however, yet to respond to the Federal Government’s letter.