Barring a last-minute change, the Academic Staff Union of Universities may call off its indefinite strike on Thursday (today).
The Court of Appeal had last Friday, ordered the union to call off its strike.
The House of Representatives also intervened in the matter, raising the hope that the union may call off the strike soon.
The PUNCH gathered that most of the over 123 branches of the union have completed their congresses on the lingering strike.
Findings by The PUNCH revealed that while some universities voted for the suspension of the strike, others voted for conditional suspension.
One of our correspondents, however, gathered that at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, the branch did not reach a consensus.
A source within the branch said, “No agreement was reached. Members agreed to follow the decision of the union’s National Executive Committee. Remember, we were on strike before the national body declared a strike.”
The situation was different at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, where one of our correspondents gathered that the branch voted in favour of “conditional suspension.”
However, at the congress held at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, which also had ASUU members from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, both in Ondo State in attendance, members voted for suspension so as not to disobey court orders.
“Members did not want to vote initially but you know ASUU is a union of intellectuals and we cannot be caught breaking the law. That was why we voted for suspension,” a union member present at the congress confided in The PUNCH.
It was also gathered that Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria voted for a conditional suspension of the strike.
At the Usmanu DanFodiyo University, our correspondents also gathered that the branch voted for suspension based on the Appeal Court order.
Meanwhile, The PUNCH has learnt that ASUU is awaiting the decision of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on the salary increase for university lecturers.
Our correspondents, who spoke to various sources within the ASUU-NEC, gathered that no agreement has been made over the percentage increase.
One of the sources said, “No agreement has been made yet on the issue of salary increment. During the meeting with the Speaker, the ASUU President was asked about the salary rate of professors, and he said it was N416,000. The Speaker expressed sadness over the matter; however, he was told that professors at Rivers State University were earning as much as N1m per month. The Speaker called someone to confirm, and it was found to be true.
“However, he couldn’t take any decision and he noted that he would transmit everything to Buhari and that the President would make the final decision.
“Also on the issue of earned allowances, N50bn has been budgeted to cater for outstanding earned allowances, while N170bn has been fixed for salary increases. However, from 2024, it is the various governing councils that will be paying earned allowances, while N300bn will go for revitalisation.”
When asked to comment on the possibility of suspending the strike, a member of ASUU NEC and the University of Jos ASUU Chairman, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, said, “The decision is for the NEC.”
However, the union’s National President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, could not be immediately reached for comments.
Like some universities, the Benue State University ASUU chapter resolved to respect the ruling of the Appeal Court.
Our correspondent learnt that ASUU from Benue State University and Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University held their meeting on Wednesday.
Though, ASUU chairmen from the two universities, Dr Victor Tarnongo and Prof Ameh Ejembi respectively declined to comment, stating that they were heading to Abuja after their respective chapters meeting for the union’s NEC meeting.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the NEC is expected to be held at the University of Abuja on Thursday (today).
There, the union is expected to make its stance known officially as regards the lingering strike.
To avoid another strike, the outgoing Vice Chancellor of the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Prof. Ganiu Olatunde, has advised the Federal Government to incorporate some of the features of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System to avoid another strike.
The VC said this on Tuesday, during a chat with journalists in his office to mark the end of his five-year tenure in office.
Olatunde said the only way to peacefully resolve the lingering crisis between the ASUU and the FG over the preferable platform for payment of lecturers’ salaries is for the government to merge the two payment platforms, the UTAS and the IPPIS.