President Goodluck Jonathan has told university teachers to choose between returning to work on Wednesday, or get sacked.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs Dr. Doyin Okupe, sent the President’s warning to the lecturers yesterday at a news conference.
The President’s aide described the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as rigid and insensitive, adding that ASUU was out to undermine the Presidency and subvert the Federal Government.
Okupe said: “The negative disposition of the ASUU leadership is unarguably a pre-conceived and calculated treacherous plot pointedly intended to undermine the Presidency and subvert the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“This is clearly a hallmark of a leadership that is determined to employ subterfuge in an attempt to hold government, students and their parents and other stakeholders to ransom in a reckless and irresponsible display of insensitivity, lawlessness and absolute lack of patriotism and even the fear of God.
“Unfortunately, all this is perpetuated using unsuspecting but otherwise loyal, patriotic and responsible members of ASUU whose families are also sad victims of this reprehensible and callous attitude of their leadership.
“From all indications therefore and other information available to government, it has become obvious that this is no longer an altruistic strike borne out of good intentions and aimed at improving the welfare of students and staff of the universities and the standard of our educational institutions.
“Rather, it is an evil programme motivated by selfish political interests and motivations within the polity.”
The government lamented what it described as ASUU’s intransigence despite the various concessions made to the lecturers, stressing that the teachers have pushed the government to the wall.
“Given the fact that government had reached agreement with ASUU to make available N100 billion for the provision of infrastructure on campuses of 61 universities covered in the needs assessment of universities, with a further commitment of another N200 billion over the next two years, and N40 billion of the N90 billion Earned Allowances demanded by the lecturers one would have expected them to reconsider their stand.
“This was despite the fact that the ASUU leadership in the meeting with President Jonathan failed curiously to articulate the basis of the calculation of the demanded N90 billion earned allowance, which has been on the table since 2009.
“It becomes crystal clear therefore that the Federal Government has shown good faith and commendable commitment by acceding to most of the demands of ASUU.
“This ordinarily ought to be a thing of pride and an outstanding achievement to the ASUU having been able to secure these unprecedented concessions as a direct benefit of the prolonged and painful five month strike.
“Given this dangerous and invidious tendency, no right thinking government sworn to protect the welfare of its citizens will fold its arms and watch the situation deteriorate any further.
“History has shown that when governments worldwide are pushed to the wall, they take whatever lawful steps that are necessary to protect the interests of its people and the state over which they govern.
“This is why we make bold to state that there is absolutely nothing dictatorial, draconian or undemocratic in the order by the Federal Government for striking lecturers to return to work or face dismissal.
“You may wish to recall that on the 5th of August 1981, Ronald Reagan then American President, sacked 11, 345 air traffic controllers after a two-day strike. Reagan took the decision after the striking workers turned down an 11 per cent wage increase he had offered them.”
Okupe stated that the demands of the ASUU leadership unwittingly questioned the integrity of the President, adding that the ASUU leaders went into negotiation with the government with a mindset.
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