The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Monday began a four-week strike following the Federal Government’s failure to meet its demands.
The National President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this during a press conference at the University of Lagos, Akoka, after the union’s National Executive Committee meeting, which started on Friday.
Osodeke said since the last meeting the union had with the Federal Government in December 2021, it had not received any formal invitation from government.
As such, Osodeke said NEC resolved to embark on “a four week-roll-over total and comprehensive strike action” beginning from Monday (yesterday).
ASUU’s declaration, however, attracted different reactions with some state governments advising lecturers in their universities against joining the strike.
The state governments said the trade dispute was between the Federal Government and ASUU, adding that they did not sign any agreement with the union.
But the ASUU president at the press conference in Lagos justified the decision to commence an immediate strike action.
He stated, “Considering that the government has failed to fully implement the Memorandum of Action it signed with the ASUU on December 23, 2020; given that the draft report of the renegotiated 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement has been submitted for finalisation for more than nine months; and noting that the forceful payment of ASUU members’ salaries and emoluments with the integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and non-adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution have continued to short-change our members, NEC resolved to embark on a four-week roll-over total and comprehensive strike action beginning from Monday, 14th February 2022.”
Blame govt, our patience has been taxed beyond limit, union tells Nigerians
He stressed that the union did not disrupting academic activities on campuses, saying due to government’s lackadaisical attitudes, the lecturers had no choice but to declare the strike.
Osodeke said, “Comrades and compatriots, it was a painful decision for NEC to arrive at the roll-over strike option. Contrary to the views canvassed in some quarters, our union loathes to disrupt academic activities on our campuses. We love our students and respect their parents and guardians. We are also not insensitive to the genuine concerns about stable academic calendar in public universities expressed by patriotic Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria. But the blame should be squarely put at the doorsteps of those who are ignored our patriotic yearnings for a development-oriented education in Nigeria.
“The patience of our members has been taxed beyond tolerable limits. We therefore seek the understanding and support of all stakeholders to make Nigerian government more responsive to issues of human capital development including health and education.”
The union berated government non-implementation of FGN/ASUU 2009 Memorandum of Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding.
Osodeke said 13 years after the agreement was signed, its provisions were only partially implemented while the conditions of service of academic staff, funding and autonomy continued to be eroded in all campuses.
FG foot-dragging on UTAS, still implementing IPPIS – ASUU president
Osodeke added one the reasons the union called off the 2020 strike was because government promised to deploy the University Transparency Accountability Solution.
He maintained that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, which government adopted, undermined the university system.
He said, “The imposition of this grotesque platform challenged our union to develop an alternative system to IPPIS — UTAS. This locally developed and cost-effective alternative payment platform has the distinct capacity to check corruption and preserve the hard-earned autonomy of Nigerian universities for the good of the country. Regrettably, the FGN is still foot-dragging over its adoption, contrary to an earlier agreement with our union, thereby allowing the financial chaos heralded by IPPIS to continue.”
While speaking on the visitation panel reports, ASUU said it had to compel the Federal Government by embarking on an action for the FGN to institute such panels.
He said, “However, many months after the panels submitted their reports, the White Papers have yet to be released.”
While speaking on the state of the nation, ASUU-NEC said it observed with concern the deepening crisis in Nigeria fuelled by widespread and rising insecurity, kidnapping, banditry, and insurgency in various parts of the country.
Osodeke lamented the non–payment of Earned Academic Allowances to members of ASUU in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
Osodeke said ASUU was constrained to note with sadness that state governments and some Vice-Chancellors continued to victimise the union members
Rollover means we will continue strike after expiration of four weeks if FG fails – ASUU chair
Later in an interview with The PUNCH, ASUU Chairman at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta , Dr. Gbenga Adeleye, explained that strike rollover meant the union would not suspend its current strike if the Federal Government failed to meet the demands of the union .
He stated, “The strike has a time lapse for which we expect government to attend to those issues . Now , if they do not attend to those issues , we are at liberty to start another strike again.
“Why we say it is a rollover strike is because normally we suspend a strike and forget about it and wait till the promises are fulfilled .This one, its suspension may be reviewed and we can start another one almost at the expiration of the first one.”
Our varsity lecturers have no business going on strike, we didn’t sign agreement with ASUU – Anambra
As ASUU began the strike, some state governments said lecturers in their universities had no reason joining the industrial action.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C-Don Adinuba, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said that the state varsity lecturers had no business going on strike.
Adinuba stated that lecturers in federal universities, being employees of the Federal Government, were the ones who had a dispute with their employer.
He said, “There is no reason for the state varsity lecturers to go on strike, if they want to do, there is a procedure provided for by the Industrial Act in Nigeria. They must give a notice, among other requirements, to their employers, but they have not done that with us.
“ASUU had an agreement with their employers and they felt the Federal Government is not meeting their demands, hence they are embarking on strike. But there is no agreement we have had with our lecturers and we have no issue with them, so, they have no business going on strike.”
We have no problem with our lecturers that can make them join strike – Benue
On his part, the Benue State Commissioner for Education, Sarwuan Tarmongo stated, “We don’t have any problem with our university lecturers that will make them to join the strike because we don’t joke with them (both academic and non-academic staff). they have been placed on first-line charge and we wouldn’t advise that they join national strike of ASUU.”
He added, ‘government ensured prompt payment of salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff of the state University alike and also ensure the provision of basic support and infrastructures in the institution’.
Also, the Delta State government said lecturers in its university had no cause to join the ASUU strike.
The state Commissioner for High Education, Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, who stated this in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday, stated, “Though, I have not heard from the university, but there is no way the state government will support them joining the strike.
“What I can tell you now is Delta State government has no trade dispute with any its tertiary institutions. There no trade dispute between the university union and the Delta State Government.
“Some of the things that are being asked by ASUU at the national level are issues Delta State Government had taken for granted about 15 years ago.”
In Katsina State, Governor Aminu Masari’s Special Adviser on Education,Dr.Bashir Ruwangodiyat, said the state was not in support of the strike declared by ASUU.
Ruwangodiya declared that the state had no issue with the state Chapter of the ASUU,adding that government held regular dialogue with lecturers in Umaru Musa Yaradua University and other higher institutions.
The Special Adviser declared” Frankly speaking, we as Government,do not support the ASUU strike. But, as a union under a national body, we know the state chapter of ASUU is bound to respect the directive of it’s national body.
“ The state has no issue with the local chapter of ASUU .If it is salary,we are not owing; It it concerns payment of academic allowances, we have no issue with that . We also hold regular dialogue with the state ASUU to ensure that things go on smoothly.
Ekiti State Commissioner for Education, Dr Modupe Aderiye, said on Monday that there was no way the industrial action declared by ASUU could be of interest to any state government.
The Enugu State Government said it would not support lecturers in the Enugu State University of Technology joining the strike.
The state Commissioner for Education, Prof Uche Eze, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said that the state government enjoyed industrial harmony with ESUT staff.
In Ogun State, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Abayomi Arigbabu said the state government had no proble with the lecturers in its universities.
FG keeps mum over ASUU strike as NANS threatens protests
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on Monday said it had not received any notification of strike from ASUU
The Spokesperson for the ministry of Labour, Charles Akpan, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja.
The PUNCH reports that ASUU on Monday declared a four weeks warning strike over failure of the Federal Government to attend to some of its lingering demands.
When asked of the plans of his ministry, Akpan said, “We have not received any notification of a warning strike from ASUU but call tomorrow and we will intimate you of the details of the meetings and next steps to be taken by the ministry”.
Also, the Supervisory ministry of Nigerian Universities, the Federal Ministry of Education kept mum over ASUU’s action.
When our correspondent reached out to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, several calls and texts forwarded to his line were not answered. The PUNCH also reached out to the Minister of state for education, Emeka Nwajiuba who also refused to give comments.
The spokesperson for the ministry, Ben Goong also failed to pick calls and reply the messages forwarded to his known contact.
Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning offered no response.
Messages sent to the spokesperson for the minister, Yunusa Abdullahi, were not responded to as of press time.
In a related development, the National Association of Nigerian Students has condemned the strike embarked upon by the lecturers.
NANS President, Asefon Sunday, in a statement, expressed “great disappointment” at the “comprehensive and total” four-week strike declared by ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, on Monday.
Asefon slammed the Federal Government and the ASUU leadership for failure to resolve their issues amicably without resort to strike.
He also said Nigerian students will stage a nationwide protest to demonstrate their dissatisfaction even as NANS also held a demonstration at the labour ministry.
The statement read in part, “I passionately appeal to all students leaders, NANS structures, and organs across the nation to mobilize to our national non-elective congress on February 17 where far-reaching decisions shall be made on our collective response to this blatant lack of patriotism, human feelings, and feelings for the collective future of education in Nigeria.
“Our decisions shall be decisive, collective, and irreversible until the strike is called off. We shall fight this impunity and recklessness without any consideration other than an immediate end to this strike.
“We, therefore, inform the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, to expect us in our numbers, and ASUU should be ready to return to the table to end this avoidable, reckless and repugnant strike. Let me assure the Minister of Labour that our protest in his office today is introductory and child play in what is yet to come. We are resolute more than before to ensure we hold government, especially the Ministry of Labour responsible for these incessant strike actions.”
The Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-owned Universities in Nigeria, Mallam Yusuf Alli, SAN, in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday told the Federal Government to avoid signing agreements with ASUU if it had no plans of fulfilling them. The Senior Advocate also appealed to the union to shelve its warning strike saying that the strike might lead to total collapse of the University system in the country.
A former Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Oye Ekiti, Prof Kayode Soremekun, called on the committee of former Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian universities to mediate between the Federal Government and ASUU.