Abuja - The Federal Government on Monday extended the deadline for striking university lecturers to resume work to December 9.
The government had earlier ordered the striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resume work on December 4.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, announced the new date while addressing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.
Okojie explained that the government decided to shift the deadline after it received notification of Prof. Festus Iyayi's funeral rites slated for between December 5 and 7.
Iyayi, former President of ASUU, died on November 12 in auto crash in Lokoja on his way to attend the association’s meeting in Kano.
According to Okojie, the decision is also to avoid a situation where government and ASUU will have to deal with the ultimatum during the funeral of the former ASUU President.
“We just received information that the burial rites of Festus Iyayi begins on the December 5 and would last till December 7.Based on this information, government decided to shift the resumption deadline to December 9, to enable lecturers to participate in the burial.”
The executive secretary said the directive had been communicated to the various universities Governing Councils and Vice Chancellors for onward transmission to the academic staff.
Okojie added that there was no intention to victimise any lecturer for participating in the strike.
He said the victimisation clause which members of ASUU were using to discredit the government, never came up when the unionists met with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 4.
On the N200billion Revitalisation Fund which ASUU wanted government to disburse within two weeks, Okojie said the money had been deposited in an account in the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He explained that the money could not be disbursed based on ASUU's demand because it was meant for capital projects.
According to Okojie, the order does not require students to commence lectures immediately.
He said any lecturer who resumed work after the expiration of the new deadline would not have his or her salary arrears paid.
Okojie said government, as employer of labour, could not fold its arms while the institutions remained shut at the detriment of students.