The tango between the government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU started with a life drama Monday morning at the Lagos State University, Ojo. The local branch of ASUU in collaboration with the Nonacademic Staff Union, NASU had barricaded the entrance of the university preventing Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, the vice chancellor and students from entering the premises. They said the school would remained locked until the promise made by Governor Babajide Sanwoolu to increase their pay was fulfilled. According to them, the promise is already a year old. The lockdown at LASU may signal the events in other tertiary institutions that are in agreement with the national body of ASUU. If the standoff persists, then students who were hoping to return for studies may have to hold back.
The government had announced the reopening of tertiary institutions, which were shut down since March, as part of efforts to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, beginning from Monday September 14. But ASUU is insisting that its members will not return to work until demands about facilities and welfare are addressed by the government. The union says that some of the issues had been on for too long, indicating that the government was not too willing to fulfill agreements signed with it.
Welfare is also at the root of the demand at LASU. So, appeals by Professor Fagbohun were not immediately heeded by the workers. Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi, president of ASUU who reiterated that lecturers would not return to work did not however disclose the agenda he claimed they would work on. He said “I can’t open our strategy here….let the government refuse to negotiate , we will unfold our strategy.” ASUU strike coincided with the lockdown, announced to stop the spread of the pandemic. Perhaps the fact that students were out of schools and therefore not necessitating pressures to be placed on government and the restriction of movement during lockdown kind of contributed to the sort of cooling of the heat over the ASUU strike.