ASUU strike: Lecturers foil Police plans to halt street protest, hold demonstration as prayer session
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of the Bayelsa state-owned university, Niger Delta University (NDU), Ammasoma, yesterday foiled the plans of the Police in Bayelsa to arrest the lecturers of the institution if they went ahead with a planned street protest in Yenagoa.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Hillary Opara, had issued a statement banning any planned procession, saying that the lecturers' proposed action would constitute a nuisance to public and quickly condoned all strategic junctions, particularly at the state capital.
But the teachers still went ahead with their protests, which they called a prayer session, and restricted themselves to the campus of the law faculty of the university located in the state capital where the Chairman of the ASUU-NDU, Mr. Beke Tuboukiye Sese, said though the union abided by the police order, it called for divine attention to the cases of blackmail and intimidation by the federal government over the demand of the university lecturers.
The prayer session, which was witnessed by multitude of ASUU members with placards carrying inscription such as “Agreement is Agreement”, “Our Universities should not be allowed to die”, “We must stop movement of students abroad” and 'Join ASUU and save Nigerian University System”, was conducted by Rev. Jephthah Otobotekere.
Sese in his speech, denied knowledge of the state government's pressure on ASUU NDU chapters into pull out of the industrial action.
He declared that by the dynamics of its operation, no ASUU president or branch chairman had total power to unilaterally declare, sustain, suspend or call off a strike by the union.
He noted that it was not lost on the lecturers that some politicians and political parties had started using the lingering industrial action embarked upon by lecturers as a political weapon against the federal government. “We are not a party to the cheap manifestation of political opportunism.
“We are being accused of politicising the ongoing strike, probably because the current ASUU President is from northern Nigeria, while we have a South-south President at the helm of affairs in the country. “Nothing can be farther from the truth. Please recall that Prof. Attahiru Jega, was once ASUU President, when General Ibrahim Babangida was ruling Nigeria. They were both from the North. Dr. Dipo Fasina, was also ASUU President during Olusegun Obasanjo’s first tenure as president. Again, they were from same Western region.
“The union also embarked on protracted struggle. We wish to put it on record that as a union whose members constitute the intellectual cream of society, our struggle has been driven by purely legitimate causes, rather than regional, ethnic or any other consideration.
“We rather wish to implore this government to see this as a golden opportunity to make history by commencing the process of revitalising Nigerian public universities to such an unprecedented height never before attained by any previous administration. Implement fully, the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement, which offers a veritable road-map toward reversing the decay in the university system and silence your opposition,” he said.