The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, has said Federal Government has used the no-work-no-pay policy as a ploy to make lecturers go hungry, and force them to resume work.
Osodeke stressed that the FG would not be able to overwhelm its striking members with its recent action.
In a phone interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, he noted that the non-payment of their salaries by the FG would not deter the lecturers from their ongoing strike.
Referring to the recent strike by the medical doctors which led to the migration of many doctors in the country, he stated that the policy would destroy the nation’s educational system and encourage the migration of many lecturers.
When the doctors went on strike the government did the same thing that they are doing. When the strike was over, they left in anger. When Saudi Arabia was recruiting, all of them went there in anger, so who is suffering?
“When we finish (the strike), many of the good academics will leave also. So you think you are punishing the lecturer, you are punishing this system and Nigerians are watching. Instead of resolving the issues within two days, you (the government) are holding their salary; you want to use hunger to push them back. So if you succeed in pushing them back, what type of education will they impact on the children?” he said.
The ASUU president also claimed that government seemed stuck with the IPPIS because it had failed to prove its efficiency and renegotiate the terms of the programme despite the “damning” reports of the Accountant General of the Federation. Osodeke claimed that the government “ran” away from the UTAS presented by ASUU as an alternative to IPPIS.
“I think the question we ought to ask, they should tell Nigerians whether they have tested IPPIS. IPPIS has been here since 2006, has it ever been tested? Does the contract for IPPIS give room for renegotiation? Have they renegotiated it, have they tested it? These are the kinds of questions Nigerians should ask them.
The President of ASUU also stressed that the union was not interested in soliciting groups to appeal to the government on the need to revert to the negotiation table.
Similarly, the chairman of ASUU, UNIPORT branch, Dr Uzoma Chima, has lamented that the government handled the education system with levity and irresponsibility, by allowing the strike to linger for 76 days. He stressed that the union would continue to pursue matters of university standards irrespective of the no-work-no-pay policy.
Chima said, “For me, I think it is irresponsibility, as you can see we embarked on this strike on February 14 and we are entering the third month now, instead of them coming to resolve the issues, so that the children can go back to school, they resorted to stopping our salaries.”
Asked about the compliance level of the strike, he said that there was “full compliance across the country.”
Meanwhile, a Nigerian civil-right activist, Mr Smart Ajaja, has slammed the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, for picking the All Progressives Congress’s N100m Expression of Interest and Nomination forms to contest the 2023 presidency amidst the lingering ASUU strike.
The activist also knocked the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige for declaring his intent to vie for the 2023 presidency.
In a telephone chat with one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Friday, Ajaja said it was unacceptable, and shameful, urging Nigerians to vehemently rise and kick against it.
When our correspondent reached out to the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, he said, “Kindly reach out to the minister of labour on what the position is.”
Meanwhile, some Nigerian students were set to engage in a peaceful protest over the lingering ASUU strike, on Tuesday, May 3, 2021, Sunday Team Plato has learnt.
In a flier obtained by our correspondent in Ilorin Kwara State, the students noted that the peaceful protest would commence by 8 a.m.
However, Ngige said further decisions on the proposed no-work-no-pay directive on members of ASUU and other tertiary institution based unions who joined the strike were with the Federal Ministries of Education and Finance.
“Please direct the inquiry to the ministry of education and finance, the decision lies with them,”he said.
While it was not clear if the government had yet invoked the no-work-no-pay directive on members of ASUU, the National President, National Association of Academic Technologists, Ibeji Nwokoma, in an interview with journalists said members of his union were not paid full salaries in March, when it declared its own two weeks warning strike the same month.
ASUU, embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14 which was extended at its expiration, following the alleged failure of the government to address the contentious issues that led to the strike.