The Nigerian Federal Government on Thursday called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), a union of university lecturers, to end its months-long strike in a week. It also said that lecturers would be removed if they kept up with the strike past Wednesday, Dec. 4.
The Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, said the union has seven to end the strike, which began on July 1, it was reported.
The ASUU went on strike, accusing the government of not implementing a 2009 deal that was agreed upon by both parties. The deal would improve their welfare and improve facilities at state-run universities.
The Daily Post reported that the government said the vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities have to declare the vacancy of teachers are not at their jobs after Wednesday, Dec. 4.
If the ASUU fails to call off the strike by next Thursday, it will face being expelled.
On Thursday, Wike was not pleased with the ASUU for making new demands around three weeks after its leadership met with the government. Those meetings raised hopes that the strike would end.
“As a responsible government we cannot allow the continuous closure of our public universities for this length of time, as this poses a danger to the education system, the future of our youths and national development” said Wike, according to the AFP news agency.
The strike has left hundreds of thousands of Nigerian students rudderless.
Because of what’s at stake, he said the government’s intervention “was in the best interest of our dear country.”
“Any academic staff who fails to resume on or before December 4, 2013, automatically ceases to be a staff of the institution,” Wike added.
But the ASUU’s leadership responded to the government’s attempt at intervention.
The ASUU National Treasurer, Dr. Ademola Aremu, told the Daily Post: “It is a pity if the federal government is not willing to perfect the resolutions reached with the union. This is why we find it difficult to trust our leaders by their words. How can someone be threatening to sack lecturers when universities are already short-staffed by almost 60,000.”
Aremu said that the government’s threat will make matters worse and will lead to “another long path to making the strike linger more than necessary.”