The indefinite strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Anambra State University (ANSU) was suspended by the union, yesterday. The suspension was made possible following the ratification of an agreement reached and signed between the governing council and representatives of the union last Saturday.
ANSU, ASUU had on July 22, 2010 joined other state-owned universities in the South-east geo-political zone on an indefinite strike which according to them, was meant to “compel the governing councils and the state governors in the zone to uplift university education, implement the new salary package as contained in ASUU/Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) 2009 agreement,” in the zone among others.
After several deliberations at the geo-political zone level, it was agreed that state governments should go back and resolve the issues concerning them and their respective university academic unions. Sequel to that, ANSU, ASUU and the Anambra State government set up committees and even had to bring in Anambra elders who intervened but to no avail.
At a point, the state government increased the subvention of the school and salary of the striking lecturers but ANSU, ASUU argued that the increment was not of any known grade level in the university system, even as it insisted that the governing council must sign the agreement reached during the negotiation.
The state government after much pleas for the striking workers to return but to no avail, tried to use coercion through the governing council to call the striking workers back. The effort also failed as the strike continued.
In its bid to see the students back on campus, the State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi reconstituted the governing council and sacked the then acting vice chancellor, Prof. Chukwunenye Anene and appointed Prof. Fidelis Okafor to, according to him, ensure that the council worked effectively.
But breaking the news of the suspension shortly after ASUU, ANSU Congress yesterday, the Chairman, Dr. Jaja Nwanegbo said, “The congress is happy because they found themselves achieving what they fought for the past six months.”
Asked about staff salaries and consequences of the strike, he said, “We were paid last in August, 2010 and the payment of September salary up till the present, are all part of the agreement. Nobody will be witch-hunt. It is also documented that nobody will be victimized for his/her involvement in the strike. We are now waiting for the school authorities to implement the approved agreement.”
On his word to the State government, council and staff, the ASUU boss said, “The strike would not have lasted this long if they were proactive in their approach to the strike. Instead of asking for a way to resolve the problem and achieve the aim of stabilizing and standardizing the university, they got themselves engulfed in arguments about the legality and logicality of the strike. After six months, they came back to proactive position and the result had been achieved.
“For the staff, it’s a very big challenge, now that we are being treated like workers in other universities all over the country; too much is expected of us in making the university a centre of excellence. We want to thank the journalists for their consistency and their faithfulness.
Reacting to the development, the state government described it as a welcome development and commended ASUU, ANSU for coming to an understanding with government.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Mike Udah who spoke to Daily Sun said, “It is a welcome development. There was never a time the State government was happy that educational programme of our university was kept in suspense because of that strike.
“Now that ASUU has called it off, government is not just happy but excited that at the end of the day, peace and normalcy has been restored. We pray that such a thing never reoccur because the victims who are the students are the future leaders of our society and this government confesses to the growth and development of the youths. It is a welcome development and a positive commentary on both the State government and ASUU”.
For the jubilant students, they also implored the school authorities not to increase their school fees.
President of the Students Union Government (SUG), Comrade Paul Okafor, who expressed the students’ gratitude, told Daily Sun, “we are grateful to ASUU members for their oneness and unity and patience throughout the strike, including their doggedness. We thank the state government as well for having made us wait for six months and now calling us back. We are grateful to them. For the smooth running of the university, we now appreciate and welcome the new VC who by his appointment has brought positive changes.
“We are urging the government not to put us into another trauma by increasing our school fees by the percentage they are proposing. the crisis.”