The federal government has shifted the resumption deadline for the striking university lecturers to December 9, 2013, as a mark of respect for the former president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Festus Iyayi whose funeral rites begin on Thursday, Dec 5 to Saturday, Dec 7.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Julius Okojie, who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, also expressed the readiness of government to pay the four months' salary arrears of any academic staff who returns to work.
Okojie said that government decided to shift the deadline after it received the notification of Iyayi's funeral rites late on Monday, so that government and ASUU would not have to deal with matters arising from the ultimatum during the funeral.
"Councils have been directed to shift the resumption date to December 9," he said.
The new deadline, according to him, was communicated to the Pro-Chancellors Tuesday morning.
Okojie said government as employers of labour cannot just fold its arms while the institutions remain shut and students continue to suffer.
"You cannot pay someone who has failed to resume work. You are on strike and you want to be paid. What if some have already left the system? Some of our very bright lecturers may have gotten jobs elsewhere already," he said.
Okojie clarified that the resumption order does not necessarily mean studies would commence immediately, noting that the school environments have to be put back in shape as reptiles may have taken over some places, and the Senate of each institution has to revisit the academic calendar.
He added that students would be expected to resume one or two weeks after the December 9 resumption deadline.
On the N200 billion revitalisation fund which ASUU is demanding should be disbursed within two weeks, Okojie said that the money has been deposited in an account at the Central Bank of Nigeria, adding that the money cannot be disbursed just anyhow because it is meant for capital projects.