The Federal Government on Monday announced December 9, as the new deadline for the striking University lecturers to resume work.
The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike had last week directed the lecturers to resume latest by Wednesday, December 4 or lose their jobs.
But, at the weekend, former Bayelsa Governor, DSP Alameisghia appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan who was attending PDP state caucus meeting in Yenagoa, to reconsider the deadline, bearing in mind the burial date for late Prof Festus Iyayi.
Following the plea, the President promised to look into it so as not to be seen as being insensitive.
While addressing journalists on Tuesday in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, announced the new date, saying government decided to shift the deadline having received notification of Prof. Festus Iyayi’s funeral rites slated for between Dec.5 and 7.
A former President of ASUU, Prof Iyayi was killed by the convoy of Kogi state Governor Idris Wada on Nov 12, 2013 while travelling to Kano to attend the ASUU’s NEC meeting called to review government’s fresh offer.
Okojie said, “We just received information that the burial rites of Festus Iyayi begins on the Dec.5 and would last till Dec. 7.
“Based on this information, government decided to shift the resumption deadline to Dec.9, to enable lecturers to participate in the burial”.
He said all the various Governing Councils and Vice Chancellors have been informed accordingly.
The NUC boss spoke on the last meeting President Jonathan had with ASUU officials at the Presidential Villa, saying “On the Nov.4, Jonathan had a meeting with ASUU.
“In attendance were senior government officials, the Ministers of Labour, Finance, Education, NLC, TUC, SGF, Chief of Staff to the President and a host of others.
“I recall the remarks Mr. President made that day that something has to happen, that all parties had to find solution to the nagging problems of our universities.
“ASUU came out from that meeting which lasted for over 13 hours, to say they would communicate with us through their principal officers.
“Let me also emphasise that the drafting of that communiqué had the input of ASUU. The 2009 agreement stipulates that any party that wants a re-negotiation should inform the Ministry of Labour.
“If ASUU had said they would resume, but the outstanding issues must be addressed, government would have no choice,” Okojie said.
The NUC Executive Secretary also confirmed that the N200billion Revitalisation Fund which ASUU demanded should be made available within two weeks had been deposited in an account in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He also warned that any lecturer that fails to resume work at the expiration of the new deadline, Dec 9, would not be paid.
According to him, “You cannot pay someone who has failed to resume work. You are on strike and you want to be paid? What if some have already left the system? Some of our very bright lecturers may have got jobs elsewhere.”