The federal government has withdrawn its earlier pronouncement through the National Universities Commission (NUC) ordering vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors, and governing councils to re-open federal universities.
There had been earlier reports that the director, Finance, and Accounts of the NUC, Sam Onazi, had signed a circular tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, on behalf of the executive secretary of the commission, and addressed to all vice-chancellors; pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities ordering them to re-open universities.
However, according to Punch, Sam Onazi, in another circular tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, on Monday, withdrew the order.
What the circular is saying
Although no reason was given for the withdrawal of the order, the letter tagged, “withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022” partly read, “I have been directed to withdraw the NUC Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated September 23, 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“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn.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.
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“Please accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards”
What you should know
Recall that earlier in the day, a lot of condemnation had trailed the federal government’s order for the reopening of public universities despite not reaching an agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in terms of resolution of all outstanding issues.
Student groups had also kicked against the order by the federal government, noting that ASUU was on a legitimate cause to save public education, adding that the FG should, instead, meet the demands of the striking lecturers.
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ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on a 4-week strike to press home their unresolved demands on the federal government.
Some of the lecturers’ demands, include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, which amounts to N1.1 trillion, payment of earned academic allowances, and adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a preferred payment option, instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), payment of promotion arrears and the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement.
Efforts to get the academics back to class have failed until now as several negotiations between the union and the government have failed.
The federal government had in a legal action against the union after several failed attempts at negotiations, filed an application through its lead counsel, Mr. James Igwe, for an interlocutory injunction, seeking an order of the court restraining ASUU from further continuing with the strike.
Delivering a ruling on the government’s application, Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action and ordered them to go back to class, pending the determination of the suit.
ASUU had appealed the ruling of the industrial court and sought for a stay of execution.