The Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA), the breakaway faction of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has called on vice chancellors of universities to reopen campuses for its members to resume work.
CONUA has consistently said its members are not on strike, insisting that paralysing academic activities on campuses cannot be the best solution to the multidimensional challenges facing the universities.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, ‘Niyi Sunmonu, CONUA said the call became necessary following the order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) directing ASUU to suspend its seven-month-old strike.
Justice Polycarp Hamman of the NICN in Abuja had on Wednesday ordered the lecturers to return to classrooms while ruling on the Federal Government’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the ongoing strike.
The government’s counsel, James Igwe (SAN), had filed the application seeking the court’s order restraining ASUU from continuing with the strike pending the determination of the suit initiated through a referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Hamman, in granting the order on Wednesday, dismissed ASUU’s objection to the application.
But ASUU said it is prepared to appeal the court order, urging its members to remain calm.
Reacting, CONUA said it became necessary to reopen the campuses because “the court is one of the recognised tools of democratic engagement in the country.”
Sunmonu also urged its members to be prepared to return to classrooms “while the agitation for reform in the nation’s university system continues.”
“Since CONUA members have not been on strike, re-opening the universities will make it possible to duly continue work, stem the restlessness among the students who have had their studies interrupted and facilitate the restoration of peace to the nation,” he added.
According to Sunmonu, CONUA would employ other options such as legislation, lobbying and legal interventions to ensure the revitalisation of the university system in the country.