Striking Nigerian lecturers face down government

December 3, 2013 12:34 pm


Students and workers demonstrate in Nigeria/AFP
Students and workers demonstrate in Nigeria/AFP
ABUJA, Dec 3 – Nigerian university lecturers on Tuesday vowed to press on with their five-month strike over pay and conditions, on the eve of a government ultimatum to go back to work or be sacked.

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) walked out on July 1 in opposition at what they claimed was the government’s failure to implement a 2009 agreement to improve their welfare and upgrade crumbling infrastructure.

Education minister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike has ordered an immediate end to the dispute, warning that teachers who were not back at their desks by Wednesday this week would lose their jobs.

But ASUU president Nasir Fagge said there would be no resolution unless the government honoured its pledge to pump 200 million naira ($1.2 million, 920,000 euros) into a development fund by the end of this year.

“Our members are saying that for 2013, we don’t have more than one month to the end,” he told Nigeria’s Channels television.

“So, why won’t the government make available this money so that we know the money is there and then the universities commence drawing from this money to address the problems of rot and decay?

“Once that is done our members will suspend the strike action.”

An advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan at the weekend called the refusal to return to work “a pre-conceived and calculated, treacherous plot” and those behind it “enemies of the state”.

The government has ordered security to be beefed up at universities, prompting fears that lecturers who fail to comply will be victimised.

Nigeria has about 1.2 million students in public and private universities, according to the National Universities Commission. Hundreds of thousands of students have been left in limbo because of the walk-out.


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