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ASUU: Jonathan distances administration from ultimatum

By The Rainbow

President Goodluck Jonathan tried to distance himself from the  seven-day ultimatum to striking university lecturers to return to work  or face sack.

He said that the ultimatum was given by the Committee of Vice Chancellors (CVC) and that  the supervising minister of education, Mr. Nyeson Wike, only made the ultimatum public.

Wike had announced Thursday that any striking university teacher who failed to resume by December 4 would lose his job, a deadline which ASUU appears little perturbed about.

Jonathan, however, maintained his government's stand that the ASUU prolonged strike is subversive. The strike commenced on July 1 and has defied many attempts at resolution.

'We didn't give them ultimatum. It was the committee of Vice Chancellors that took that decision. The supervising minister of education only passed on the decision.  What ASUU is doing is no longer trade dispute but subversive action', the president said.

Jonathan however said the  government would consult on the deadline to ASUU members, in order not to be 'perceived to be insensitive, we will consult on the deadline'.

He said, '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. 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.

'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'.

President Jonathan also thanked the Bayelsa people for their prayers and support while he fell ill in London.

He emphasised the need for party faithful to be united, stressing that the key to political success was the unity of the people and that divided people bring about a lot of issues.

In his remarks, Governor Seriake Dickson commended Jonathan's deep interest in the state caucus and making out time despite his tight schedule  to be part of it, where issues affecting the party are discussed and solutions found.

Govt has done enough for ASUU - UNIJOS VC Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of University of Jos, Prof. Hayard Mafuyai, yesterday, said the Federal Government has done enough and even shown commitment for  ASUU to call-off the strike.

The VC spoke  while answering questions from journalists at the end of the year dinner and award night of UNIJOS 80-85 Alumni Group in Abuja. He said the challenges facing the education sector in the country over the decades cannot be corrected overnight, so 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,' Mafuyai said. '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'.

When he was asked about the security situation in Jos and how it has affected University of Jos,  he blamed the media for poor reportage and how it is adversely affecting socio-economic development of the university and Plateau State.

'Threat won't end strike' In a related development, students affected by the ASUU strike say threat would not end the impasse. The National Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Hassan Soweto, who spoke on the ultimatum to ASUU, said threat will only worsen the situation. 'If the FG goes ahead with the threat, then ASUU, the trade union movement and civil society organisations should be expected to respond with nationwide mass protest and demonstrations,' Soweto said. Victor Samuel, a law student of Ekiti State University, also reacting, said: 'With the assertion of  the Federal Government, should it sound as if we rule by positivist theory? This is just a barking  from the government as it would make no appreciative effort but make the situation more critical.' Adeola Oluwatayo, a 300 level journalism student of LASU, said the threat won't end the strike, but rather  make the lecturers adamant. Emmanuel Eca, a final year student, University of Calabar  saw the threat by government  as  an empty one because it has failed in it's responsibility. 'The question to ponder over is why the FG has continued in reneging on its agreements? They could have averted the strike in the first place by keeping to the terms of the agreement.  They should stop playing with our future.' Another student, Macaulay Adeleye, went  political in his reaction when he said: 'The threat by the Federal Government won't materialize at the end of the day due to the fact that it is not all institutions that can embark on such a step and overwhelm the lecturers.' Going by the threat, ASUU said it was evident that the Federal Government was  not ready to implement the agreement  it reached with the union. The treasurer of the union, Dr. Ademola Aremu, said  government would only succeed in wasting the time of Nigerians and the youths in the country if it failed to perfect the agreement.