Nigerian University teachers Monday began a one-week warning strike, to renew their demand for the reinstatement of their sacked 49 colleagues at the University of IIorin (UNILORIN), in Nigeria’s central region, reports the Nation newspaper.
The UNILORIN 49 were sacked in 2001 following a strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
They were not allowed to return to their jobs after the strike for which no other university took action against its teachers. ASUU President, Dr. Abdullahi Sule Kano, said contrary to the Federal Government’s position, the union believed that the case could be settled out of court.
The government believes that settling the matter out-of-court would violate the rule of law. Kano said an out-of-court settlement was a normal legal process as the parties in dispute would meet and agree on the terms of settlement.
Kano said the government could only object to such a settlement if it wanted the universities’ crises to linger.
He said the out-of-court settlement as propounded by the union would ensure that the case of the sacked lecturers did not become that of “justice delayed is justice denied”, adding: “Some human beings are using state power to punish some Nigerian citizens – the UNILORIN 49 – unjustly and they do not care how long it lasts .”
Kano said ASUU was not willing to sacrifice justice on the altar of expediency, noting that the consequences of the problem lingering for even one year longer are not desirable for the university system.
“Our universities need peace within an atmosphere of justice and freedom to be stable and to deliver the goods of teaching and research,” he said.
He appealed to well-meaning Nigerians, organisations and individuals to prevail on the government to resolve the problem now as ASUU, would not want another prolonged crisis. ASUU, he said, would not carry the responsibility for any prolonged crisis.
Kano said while the universities required 60,000 lecturers to function properly, only 16,000 are attending to over 1.1 million students. On why President Umar Yar’adua, who was a lecturer, is not helping matters, Kano , said: “Yar’adua is not part of us.”
Kano said after Yar’adua left the university system he went to manage a farm which collapsed.