Nigeria’s federal government through the National Universities Commission (NUC), has ordered vice-chancellors to re-open schools and allow students to resume lectures. Sam Onazi, Director, Finance and Accounts of the NUC, gave the order.
This was revealed in a letter written by the NUC’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the commission’s Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Rasheed. The letter was sent to all vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors, and the chairman of federal university governing bodies.
“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”, the letter partly reads.
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to end its statewide strike on Wednesday. ASUU had been on strike since February 14 to advocate for more university financing and a review of academics’ wages, among other things. Several discussions between ASUU and the Federal Government have resulted in a stalemate. As a result, the Federal Government took the strike to court.
The government, via its lawyer, James Igwe, asked the court for an interlocutory order preventing ASUU from proceeding with the strike until the main complaint was resolved.
The counsel to the Federal Government James Igwe on Wednesday prayed the court to order the striking varsity lecturers to in the interim, return to work, pending the determination of the substantive suit before the court.
He maintained that the matter was not only urgent but of great national interest as millions of students have been at home for over seven months.
“Sections 47 of the Trade Dispute Act, TDA, gives your lordship the power to direct that no worker should continue to embark on strike pending when the applications are heard and determined,”,
Igwe said there was the need for the matter to be expeditiously determined to enable university students to return to school, adding that failure to call off the strike would cause irreparable damage to not only the students but also to the nation.
According to him, since the dispute between FG and lectures was already before the court for adjudication, it would be proper and in the interest of justice for the strike to be suspended. In his ruling, Justice Hamman held that the application was meritorious and deserved to be granted by the court.
While dismissing objections ASUU raised through its lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, the court held that the strike action was detrimental to public university students that cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
“The balance of convenience tilts in favour of the applicant.
“I hold that this application is meritorious and this application is granted”, Justice Hamman ruled.
The court, thereafter, issued an order, restraining ASUU, “whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action, pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.” ASUU had since filed 14 grounds of appeal to challenge the order.