The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday, dropped a hint that lecturers cannot be compelled to return to classes in the event of an order by the National Industrial Court of Arbitration.
ASUU National President, Emmanuel Osodeke, made this known during a parley with Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Osodeke, accompanied by ASUU executives, likened the scenario to a court order to force a medical doctor to treat a patient.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Mallam Adamu Adamu-led Ministry of Education, he described the seven-month strike as symptomatic of the level of decay in the university system.
Claiming the ministry never called on ASUU for a meeting to explore avenues to end the strike, he said all his members got in return was a provocative no-work-no-pay policy.
Osodeke maintained that ASUU remains blameless about the closure of public universities. He warned that the universities, which account for over 95 per cent intake of students, face the risk of depreciating to the level of public primary schools within the next 10 years.
Gbajabiamila, who expressed concern over the impact of the strike on students, urged the aggrieved lecturers to shift grounds in the interest of the country’s educational sector.
He assured that the House would interface with President Muhammadu Buhari to find short-term and long-term solutions to challenges besetting the sector.
Flanked by his deputy, Ahmed Idris Wase, and other principal officers, he said: “We have to see how we can close this chapter. We all know the issues. But we are here for solutions and the way forward. We will do all we can constitutionally. We are all on the same page.
“Our students need to go back to school. The question is how do we get this done. There has to be shifting of grounds and moving closer to the centre. It’s about give and take.”
The meeting, thereafter, went into a closed-door session.