By Marcus Ikechukwu
The Federal Government has back tracked on its earlier directive to Vice Chancellors to reopen public universities for academic programmes.
It was however learnt from sources within the academic system, that the decision by the Federal Government to withdraw the earlier circular issued on Monday, morning to the VCs, may not be unconnected with its re-assessment of the directive, especially with the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
There are indications that the NUC may have weighed the implications and may have come to the conclusion that the directive might worsen the already dire situation.
The earlier circular which emanated from the National Universities Commission NUC had directed Vice Chancellors to open universities under their purview for academic activities to resume.
The directive comes just as the Executives of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU had filed an appeal challenging the earlier court verdict of the National Industrial Court NIC which had directed ASUU to go back to work.
The earlier circular specifically by the Commission specifically tasked the university managements to allow students continue academic exercises.
In the letter signed by NUC’s Director, Finance and Accounts,Mr Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed on Monday, was addressed to all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities.
“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses”, the letter partly reads.
But in another letter retracting the directive, Mr Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, said the initial circular stands withdrawn and that all Pro-Chancellors, VCs of Federal Universities are to wait for further developments or information which will be communicated to them in due course.
The Circular reads: Re: Forwarding of Court Judgement and Enforcement of Order by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in suit no: NICN/Abj/270/2022.
Withdrawal of Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136. I have been directed to withdraw the National Universities Commission circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 and dated 23rd September 2022 on the above subject. Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn.
All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils as well as vice chancellors of Federal Universities are to please note. Further developments and information will be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.
Recall that ASUU commenced an indefinite strike since February 14, 2022 over grievances relating to funding for universities, arrears of earned allowances to its members and discrepancies in the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payrolls and Information System IPPIS , among other issues.
Why both contending parties have been enmeshed in the crisis, the National Industrial Court ordered ASUU to return back to classes, to which the latter has already filed an appeal challenging the verdict.