The hope of a final resolution of the prolonged impasse in the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was raised Wednesday by the ASUU Chairman, University of Ibadan branch, Dr Segun Ajiboye when he stated that the strike would soon come to end especially as the federal government has begun to shift grounds.
He did not give details and the extent of ground shifting the federal government had done.
The federal government had earlier given the resume-or-be-sacked ultimatum which should have ended yesterday, but later extended it to December 9.
Some universities have either resumed or announced their resumption dates, even as some others like University of Jos have vowed to continue the strike.
Ajiboye dropped the hint in Ibadan yesterday during the session of tributes organised to honour the late Professor Festus Iyayi, who was killed in a motor accident while on his way to attend a meeting on how to resolve the ASUU crisis.
Ajiboye noted that the ceremony organised by by ASUU was not only to mourn Iyayi but also to mobilise ASUU members towards pursuing the struggle to its logical conclusion.
The academic community in the university staged a candle light procession in honour of the late former National President of ASUU.
The ASUU members, including the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Isaac Adewole, and some other principal officers, adorned in black gowns, commenced the procession at the ASUU secretariat, Mellanby Hall of the school and marched to the Faculty of Arts enroute Kenneth Dike Road with solidarity songs rendered in low mournful tone.
In his speech, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the dreams of Iyayi should be made to come true.
Adewole commended the courage and the resilience of Iyayi, describing him as a gentleman who was committed to not only the development of education in Nigeria but towards good living of Nigerians.
In his tribute, a former National President of ASUU, Professor Sola Olukunle, described Iyayi as a man of peace whose peace mission is also based on reasonable principles, therefore it would be a great disservice if the current struggle is subdued and disallowed to reach its logical conclusion as intended by the late leader.
Speaker after speaker including the Dean of Faculty of Arts, Professor Remi Raji, Dr Femi Aborisade, Prof. Francis Egbokhare and Professor John Anetor described the death Iyayi as unfortunate, and needless, noting that if the government had honoured the agreement it reached with ASUU, the death would have been avoided.
In the same way, the academic and civil society communities in Benin City organised a procession march in Iyayi’s honour.
During the procession, members of UNIBEN branch of ASUU were joined by hundreds of their colleagues from University of Ilorin, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma (AAU), Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, etc.
Other groups also represent included Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations (CONGOS), Joint Action Front (JAF), the Parents Consultative Association of Nigerian Universities (PCANU).
The march, which began at the Faculty of Arts and. Social Sciences, University of Benin at about 10a.m., took a long walk of about five kilometres to the residence of the late Professor of Business Administration, Bello Street, off Benin/Lagos expressway.
Addressing the people at the residence of the late former Chairman of ASUU, Chairman of UNIBEN ASSU, Dr. Anthony Monye-Emina, described Iyayi as one of Nigeria’s number one heroes that have fallen, and a hero of ASUU struggles.
He said the march was the beginning of activities to mark the exit of the late Professor.
He recalled that the journey that claimed the life of Iyayi, began on a pleasant note that morning with Iyayi relieving the last meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan and how he urged them to show true commitment to the struggle.
Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana, urged ASUU never to relent in the struggle, but to continue from where Iyayi left. .
He disclosed that ASUU and Iyayi family members have mandated him to challenge the “murder” of Iyayi in the court.
Also addressing the crowd of sympatisers, Chairman of ASUU, University of Ilorin chapter, Dr. Taiwo Oloruntoba-Oju, said the late Iyayi had cloned many other Iyayis while alive, to carry on the fight, adding that the only way to ensure that what Iyayi fought for was not allowed to die with him is to sustain the struggle.
Other speakers eulogised Iyayi, whom they called a hero, adding that his death has actually immortalised him.
Eldest son of Iyayi, Ehidiamen, who received the mourners on behalf of the family, thanked them for the support they have given to the family since the demise of their father.
He was later presented with signed copy of the condolence register opened by the union.
Speaking on its resolve to continue with the strike, University of Jos chapter of ASUU said yesterday that it will not resume lectures until it receives directives from its national officials to that effect, adding that it will not go back to class even after the expiration of the extended deadline given by the federal government.
The chairman of the ASUU Unijos chapter, Dr David Jangkam said majority of the 1012 union members at Unijos were not bothered by federal government’s sack threats.
Jangkam said, “University of Jos chapter, wants to categorically state that we cannot be cowed or perturbed by the threat from the Minister of Education and other agents of government; we remain resolute and committed to the struggle and shall not waver from the strike until government does the right thing.”
Similarly, the Lagos State University (LASU) chapter of ASUU, resolved to continue with the strike until government meets the union’s demands.
The Chairman of LASU branch Adekunle Idris, described the threat to sack lecturers who refused to resume work by Wednesday as an outdated approach to solving issues and a joke.
“I’m sure they will get their professors and doctors from Alaba or Idumota market. Maybe they will employ some from India or Cuba to teach the students,” he said sarcastically.