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ASUU reconsiders position, accuses Nigerian government of blackmail

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Following the intervention by prominent individuals and groups including the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and traditional institutions, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it would give room for more dialogue on the dispute between it and the Nigerian government before it decides on whether to resume the industrial action it suspended a year ago or not.

The union said it took the decision at the weekend at an emergency meeting of its national executive council which was held at its national secretariat located within the campus of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

In a statement issued at the end of the meeting and signed by its national president, Emmanuel Osodeke, a professor, ASUU said it took into full account “efforts by student union bodies, leading media practitioners and organisations, religious and opinion leaders, frontline traditional rulers, civil society organisations and other interest groups within and outside Nigeria to make government address all outstanding issues arising from the December 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA).”

ASUU, however, expressed worry over what it described as the government’s resort to blackmail against the union, and the “continued meagre payments of entitlements to down the wave of industrial action.”

“NEC was worried by the spirited efforts of government agents to reduce the demands of ASUU to a regime of intermittent payment of watered-down revitalisation fund and release of distorted and grossly devalued Earned Academic Allowances (EAA),” the statement reads in part.

It decried that the government has turned its back to the plan to set up an inter-ministerial committee to review the draft renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement which, it noted, began in March 2017.

ASUU noted with regret that the Minister of State for Education, Chukuwuemeka Nwajiuba, has also failed on his promise to bring back the renegotiation process within a week, saying the minister made the pledge at a reconciliatory meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on November 19.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila [PHOTO CREDIT: @FemiGbajabiamila]

The union said: “Hon. Nwajiuba’s failure to fulfil a promise made in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly is not only provocative but reminiscent of trust-deficit that has bedevilled all agreements and understandings reached with this government and those before it since 2009.”

Other issues at stake

The Academic Staff Union also condemned “in strong terms” what is said is a silent attempt to reject its demands that the NUC Act be reviewed to check the proliferation of universities by state governments, who it accused of neglecting the funding of the existing universities.

The union said establishment of universities in Nigeria has become a fad, saying the culture of just waking up and announcing the establishment of universities must be reviewed.

It had earlier suggested that new universities should be barred from enjoying funding support from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) within the first one decade of their existence, and that a robust sustainability plan should be part of the requirements for granting approval for their establishment by regulatory authorities.

On UTAS

The union said it is taking more than a year for the regulatory body- National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to provide its feedback on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which the union noted was developed by it at no cost to the government.

ASUU NEC, however, said it is pleased by the evaluation report by NITDA which, it noted, endorses the UTAS and requested its “immediate deployment by the government for Nigerian universities.”

ASUU, therefore, called on the National Universities Commission (NUC) and other agencies of government to promptly respond to issues that concern them in the NITDA’s report to pave the way for speedy migration to the payment platform.

“On our part, ASUU is fully prepared to address all the technical observations made by NITDA in order to make this happen” it said.

Blackmail allegation

ASUU said it appreciated the concerns and efforts of Nigerians on “its mission to salvage public education in general and the Nigerian University System in particular,” and assured that it will spare no efforts in its struggle for repositioning public universities and the transformation of Nigeria.

“We shall resist any attempt to blackmail the union and derail our patriotic struggle for a productive university system by official propaganda founded on tokenism and crumb-sharing.” ASUU said.

Background

ASUU, the umbrella for lecturers of universities in Nigeria, was again in the news recently with a threat to call out its members to down tools over what it described as the insincerity on the part of the Nigerian government and alleged poor commitment to the agreements reached in the past.

The threat was coming barely a year after it suspended its nine-month prolonged strike over disagreement with the government, especially over unpaid allowances and the alleged imposition of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System on the institutions for the payment of universities’ workers’ salaries.

But various stakeholders swiftly intervened, calling on the teachers’ union to consider the fate of the students and the negative impacts of the suspended industrial action on the nation’s education sector, especially amidst the biting consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Others like the committee of pro-chancellors of the states-owned universities, however, accused ASUU of insensitivity, even as the committee seeks review of the labour laws to allow separate negotiation with workers of universities that are owned and run by the various state governments.

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Following the intervention by prominent individuals and groups including the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and traditional institutions, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said it would give room for more dialogue on the dispute between it and the Nigerian government before it decides on whether to resume the industrial action it suspended a year ago or not.

The union said it took the decision at the weekend at an emergency meeting of its national executive council which was held at its national secretariat located within the campus of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) at the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

In a statement issued at the end of the meeting and signed by its national president, Emmanuel Osodeke, a professor, ASUU said it took into full account “efforts by student union bodies, leading media practitioners and organisations, religious and opinion leaders, frontline traditional rulers, civil society organisations and other interest groups within and outside Nigeria to make government address all outstanding issues arising from the December 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA).”

ASUU, however, expressed worry over what it described as the government’s resort to blackmail against the union, and the “continued meagre payments of entitlements to down the wave of industrial action.”

“NEC was worried by the spirited efforts of government agents to reduce the demands of ASUU to a regime of intermittent payment of watered-down revitalisation fund and release of distorted and grossly devalued Earned Academic Allowances (EAA),” the statement reads in part.

It decried that the government has turned its back to the plan to set up an inter-ministerial committee to review the draft renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement which, it noted, began in March 2017.

ASUU noted with regret that the Minister of State for Education, Chukuwuemeka Nwajiuba, has also failed on his promise to bring back the renegotiation process within a week, saying the minister made the pledge at a reconciliatory meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on November 19.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila [PHOTO CREDIT: @FemiGbajabiamila]
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila [PHOTO CREDIT: @FemiGbajabiamila]

The union said: “Hon. Nwajiuba’s failure to fulfil a promise made in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly is not only provocative but reminiscent of trust-deficit that has bedevilled all agreements and understandings reached with this government and those before it since 2009.”

Other issues at stake

The Academic Staff Union also condemned “in strong terms” what is said is a silent attempt to reject its demands that the NUC Act be reviewed to check the proliferation of universities by state governments, who it accused of neglecting the funding of the existing universities.

The union said establishment of universities in Nigeria has become a fad, saying the culture of just waking up and announcing the establishment of universities must be reviewed.

It had earlier suggested that new universities should be barred from enjoying funding support from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) within the first one decade of their existence, and that a robust sustainability plan should be part of the requirements for granting approval for their establishment by regulatory authorities.

On UTAS

The union said it is taking more than a year for the regulatory body- National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to provide its feedback on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which the union noted was developed by it at no cost to the government.

ASUU NEC, however, said it is pleased by the evaluation report by NITDA which, it noted, endorses the UTAS and requested its “immediate deployment by the government for Nigerian universities.”

ASUU, therefore, called on the National Universities Commission (NUC) and other agencies of government to promptly respond to issues that concern them in the NITDA’s report to pave the way for speedy migration to the payment platform.

“On our part, ASUU is fully prepared to address all the technical observations made by NITDA in order to make this happen” it said.

Blackmail allegation

ASUU said it appreciated the concerns and efforts of Nigerians on “its mission to salvage public education in general and the Nigerian University System in particular,” and assured that it will spare no efforts in its struggle for repositioning public universities and the transformation of Nigeria.

“We shall resist any attempt to blackmail the union and derail our patriotic struggle for a productive university system by official propaganda founded on tokenism and crumb-sharing.” ASUU said.

Background

ASUU, the umbrella for lecturers of universities in Nigeria, was again in the news recently with a threat to call out its members to down tools over what it described as the insincerity on the part of the Nigerian government and alleged poor commitment to the agreements reached in the past.

The threat was coming barely a year after it suspended its nine-month prolonged strike over disagreement with the government, especially over unpaid allowances and the alleged imposition of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System on the institutions for the payment of universities’ workers’ salaries.

But various stakeholders swiftly intervened, calling on the teachers’ union to consider the fate of the students and the negative impacts of the suspended industrial action on the nation’s education sector, especially amidst the biting consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Others like the committee of pro-chancellors of the states-owned universities, however, accused ASUU of insensitivity, even as the committee seeks review of the labour laws to allow separate negotiation with workers of universities that are owned and run by the various state governments.

Support PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401…





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