Saturday, 30 November 2013

“President Is Human”: Why Jonathan Decided To “Come Down Hard On ASUU”

Leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday moved from Abuja to their respective campuses expecting crackdown, as the Federal Government has issued several threats. President Goodluck Jonathan might no longer be directly involved in negotiation with the lecturers: he is angry for the ASUU leaders’ contempt for the office of the President, their decision to issue new conditions and theim being allegedly backed by some external forces. After spending almost a week in Abuja in hopes of resuming talks, the ASUU leaders were eventually left with no other option but to go back to their campuses. A top leader of ASUU said on conditions of anonymity: “Our leaders have returned to their campuses. They were disappointed with the Area Boy or Agbero method adopted by the Minister. “The military style of the Minister of State for Education will only compound the situation. “So, we are back to our trenches as it was the situation during the military era. We are ready for the worst now. If the situation becomes uncontrollable, we will also go underground and resort to guerilla tactics.” Meanwhile, a source within the Federal Government said: “We hope that they will not overreach their bounds, because what they have done in the last four months amounted to economic sabotage. “If they continue to take the law into their hands by paralysing activities in the universities, we may try them for economic sabotage. This is also the extreme end the government may go too. “Let them study the enabling laws to see what they have been violating. We are not yet disposed to wielding the big stick, but if the government is pushed to the wall, it will invoke relevant laws to manage the situation. We are waiting for what they will do.” A different source added: “”ll the security agencies have been directed to protect lives and property on all the campuses nationwide, especially in the universities that have reopened. “Union leaders are also under watch to prevent recourse to self-help, which may lead to wanton destruction of property. “The government will not tolerate any intimidation or harassment, and any violent union leader risks being arrested. But those who restrict themselves to the confines of the law have nothing to fear.” On Jonathan’s position, a government source said: “We are trying to insulate the Office of the President from further negotiation with ASUU if at all the union will allow such or there will be room for such. “We think relevant ministers and the Committee of Pro-Chancellors/Vice-Chancellors should be able to handle the rest of the talks/negotiation.” According to investigation, the December 4, 2013 ultimatum given by the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Nyesom Wike, followed the directive of the Presidency. The government source added: “The President is angry because he over-indulged ASUU leaders. It is only in Nigeria you see the President sitting for 13 hours with union leaders on any issue and at the end of the day, there will be no courtesy from the union. “While the President was expecting feedback from ASUU leaders within 72 hours, they kept him in suspense for two weeks or more. “And instead of feedback on where the talks stopped, ASUU leaders came up with fresh conditions when even during the negotiation, they admitted that some of the clauses in 2009 agreement cannot be implemented. “The President is human. He now has every cause to believe that the strike action seems to have the backing of external forces seeking to bring his administration down. That was why he decided to come down hard on ASUU, too.”

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