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INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE: ASUU Accuses FG of Lip-service to Education, Extends Strike



By Praise Chinecherem

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State on Thursday announced a  comprehensive, total and indefinite strike action over what it termed government’s intransigence and lack of commitment to reaching agreement with the union.

The body, in a statement issued by its Chairperson, Stephen Ufoaroh after its Congress, said the decision was in agreement with the National, Zonal and Branch leaderships targeted at saving the soul of nation’s public universities.

It accused Federal Government of paying lipservice to education, insisting there was no going back to the industrial action until all issues at stake were satisfactorily resolved.

The lecturers appealed for continued solidarity from parents, students and entire citizens in the struggle to give Nigerian youth quality education.

The statement reads, “Congress noted with dismay the continued imbroglio on the current lingering industrial action, occasioned by intransigence, and lack of commitment by government (both Federal and State) on the genuine demands of ASUU. 

“Congress decried various intrigues and lies to malign the reputation and genuine demands of ASUU by the Federal government, including various propaganda tools, campaign of calumny, falsehood and misinformation. Congress categorically debunked the various claims of Government as lies. 

“On Government’s negligence and repudiation of the reports of the various Government Negotiating Committees (The Prof. Jibril Munzali Committee of May, 2021, and the just concluded Prof Nimi Brigg’s Committee), ASUU NAU Congress viewed the Federal government’s attitude as irresponsible, reprehensible and symptomatic of a divided and confused house. 

“Congress rejected the Federal government’s award of salary to University lecturers, with the very insulting award’ of 35% increment for Professors at bar and 25% for other levels of academics, on a take-it-or-leave-it-basis. 

“Congress observed that the award of salary negates the principle of collective bargaining, and an insult to the sensibilities of the finest intelligentsia of the nation’s human capital development.

“Congress observed that the education of Nigerians is not a priority of government; that the Strike could have been avoided if government had considered education a priority.

“On the press briefing by the Minister of Education on 17th August, 2022, Congress took note of the fruitless effort by the minister  to misinform Nigerians to the effect that every issue with ASUU has been resolved except the issue of salary arrears for the months ASUU had been on strike, which, as he stated, government was not willing to pay and would not pay, to serve as a deterrence to strike. 

“We wish to state categorically that at no time was the issue of salary arrears discussed with the Minister, as no agreement has been reached on the important issues that necessitated the strike. This statement by the Minister is diversionary, irresponsible and condemnable. 

“And coming from a man who on 15th November, 2013 urged ASUU to continue the strike and expand the scope of its struggle, the failure of integrity test, the lack of character and the shock and disappointment of inconsistency is colossal to say the least.  

“Congress observed that none of the genuine demands of ASUU has been given requisite attention by the FGN. THESE ARE: Re-negotiation of the 2009 FG-ASUU Agreement; Adoption of UTAS (which came first in the test by the Government) as a replacement for IPPIS as a payment platform; Payment of salaries arrears  for academic staff; Payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); Revitalization funds for the universities; Release of White Paper on Visitation Panels that concluded their assignment last year; and Non-proliferation of State  Universities. 

“The much the Buhari-led administration has done was a promise of implementation of ASUU’s demand in 2023, when perhaps, he must have left office, thereby shifting his responsibility to the next government.  Congress viewed the government promissory note as abdication of responsibility.

“Against the backdrop of government’s intransigence and lack of commitment to reaching an agreement with ASUU on the contentious issues, after over six (6) months of industrial action, ASUU-NAU ultimately resolved for a comprehensive, total and indefinite strike going forward, until all issues at stake are satisfactorily resolved between the Union and the Federal Government.”

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