The Federal Government yesterday withdrew its earlier circular directing vice-chancellors and pro-chancellors to reopen its universities.
It gave no reason for the u-turn contained in another circular by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the body that supervises university education in the country.
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The latest circular marked NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136 and signed by NUC’s Director (Finance and Account) Sam Onazi, was addressed to all vice-chancellors; pro-chancellors, and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities.
The statement partly reads, “ I have been directed to withdraw the NUC Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated 23″ September 2022 on the above subject.
“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities, are to please note. Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.”
The government issued the first circular dated September as a step to enforce the National Industrial Court of Nigeria(NICN) order on university teachers to resume work.
The university teachers have been on strike since February 14, 2022, over government’s failure to implement agreements reached with them.
But the university teachers vowed through the University of Ibadan chapter Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), Prof. Ayoola Akinwole, that they would not be cowed to return to the classrooms
Akinwole said: “We remain committed to our resolve to prosecute the strike and our members have resolved not to be caged by tyrannical orders.
“As you know, we have appealed the Industrial court ruling. Our members will have nothing to do with teaching, and supervision nor attend statutory meetings until our demands are met and the strike is suspended by the leadership of the union.
The lawyer of the reinstated 49 University of Ilorin teachers, John Baiyeshea, accused the government of playing a chess game with the lives of students
Baiyeshea, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), added that the government’s decision to approach the court over the strike by ASUU amounted to flogging a dead horse.
He said: “We should all know that the totality of the issue is that government created the whole problem. This problem is not supposed to be as big as this. People say ASUU is using the same tactic all the time, but the government too is using the tactic of ‘we are government and that ASUU cannot challenge them.’
“People in government have a problem of inflated ego. Look at the way government representatives are talking down on those lecturers as if they are criminals.
“These people are not just fighting for their personal rights, they are fighting for the survival of education in this country.”
Strike delaying bursary payment to education undergraduates
Education Minister Adamu Adamu has blamed the payment of bursary to students studying Education on the lingering ASUU strike.
Adamu, at the 2022 World Teachers Day news conference in Abuja, said that “due to the strike, we have not been able to get the data of all the students in universities to be able to process payment.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had during the 2020 World Teachers Day promised to release bursaries to students studying education and colleges of education.
President Buhari had said that “undergraduates of B.Ed/B.A. Ed/BSc. Ed in Public institutions are to receive stipends of N75,000.per semester while NCE students will get N50,000 per semester.