The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Wednesday, stated that the Federal Government would look into the threat by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The minister also said most of the union’s grievances were domiciled in the ministries of Education and Communications and Digital Economy.
Ngige stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja.
ASUU had issued several threats of an indefinite strike over what the union tagged the failure of the Federal Government to honour some of the agreements it signed with it in the past.
In 2020, ASUU went on a nine-month strike, which was called off in December of that year.
In 2021, the union issued fresh threats and gave the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum to address its grievances. The union later shelved the move following the payment of N22.1bn earned allowances and the release of N30bn revitalisation fund to the universities.
Some members of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council, led by the co-chairmen, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Samson Ayokunle, visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the failure to implement the Memorandum of Understanding the government signed with ASUU in 2009 and other agreements.
At the meeting, Buhari said the government remained committed to fulfilling the promises made to the union.
Despite this, ASUU issued directives to its chapters and encouraged members to continue mobilising for the impending strike.
Ngige, however, told one of our correspondents, “The truth is that ASUU’s grievances are with the NUC, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The issues are the deployment of their UTAS and the White Paper report on the universities.
“You know that we at the Ministry of Labour are not their employer; the Education ministry is their employer. Our job here is to act as reconciliatory officers.
“The President has mandated his Chief of Staff and the Minister of Education as well as the Ministry of Labour to step in, but my job is to step in as the reconciliatory officer if both sides refuse to settle their grievances. We will surely look into the matter.”
‘FG deliberately destroying educational system’
The Federal University of Technology, Owerri, chapter of the union, on Wednesday, accused the Federal Government of deliberately destroying the country’s educational system.
The union said at a press conference on the campus that the Federal Government was forcing it to shut down all public universities nationwide.
The Chairman, ASUU FUTO, Chinedu Ihejirika, said the Federal Government had consistently failed to honour the Memoranda of Understanding and Memoranda of Action it signed with the union since 2009.
FG, serial defaulter in honouring pacts, says MOUAU ASUU chair
The Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State chapter of ASUU says the Federal Government is a deliberate serial defaulter in terms of honouring agreements.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting of the chapter in Umuahia, on Tuesday, the Chairman, Prof Chike Ugwuene, listed various unresolved grievances the union had with the government, which he noted arose from a 13-year-old ago.
“The Federal Government is a deliberate serial defaulter in terms of honouring its agreements; it is in arrears of several billions of naira in terms of the Nation Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS Assessment funds and the earned academic allowances,” he stated.
The Chairman, ASUU, Owerri Zone, Prof Uzo Onyebinama, and a former Investment Secretary of the union, Charles Ononuju, were at the conference.
Govt has pushed us to the precipice – UNIUYO lecturers
The Chairperson of ASSUU in the University of Uyo, Dr Happiness Uduk, has castigated the Federal Government for being adamant to the plights of lecturers.
According to her, the government has remained insensitive, insincere and dubious following it failure to honour the agreement it reached with the union in December 2020.
Members of the union had earlier attended an enlarged meeting with other bodies such as the None Academic Staff Union and Senior Staff Union of Universities, where they hinted of the plan to embark on another round of indefinite.
They also staged a road walk round the campus of the institution to sensitise the public to the impending strike.
Addressing a press conference, Uduk lamented that the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had pushed the union to the point that it had no other option but to embark on an indefinite strike.
Taraba varsity lecturers protest poor welfare
Barely a week after Governor Darius Ishaku commended members of staff of the Taraba State University for their hard work, which made the institution to be ranked 17th in the country, the lecturers, on Wednesday, staged a protest against what they called poor welfare.
The lecturers, under the auspices of ASUU, rose from their congress and staged a peaceful protest round the university’s campus and demanded improved welfare.
The Chairman of the union in the university, Dr Samuel Shiikaa, told journalists during the protest that the members were tired of signing memoranda of understanding with the state government, which would not be implemented.
He said, “Since 2009, we have been signing memoranda of understanding with the state government, but the government will always not honour its own side.
“Our members are tired of the memos and want the government to honour its agreement to pay pension and ensure timely promotion of our members.”
Meanwhile, the Federal University, Wukari, branch of the union resolved to go by the resolution that would be reached by the national secretariat of ASUU regarding the planned strike.
This resolution was reached at the congress of the union held on the campus of the institution.
Addressing journalists shortly after the congress, the branch Chairman, Joseph Ikwebe, said the institution declared Wednesday a lecture-free day in order to enlighten students and parents about the plights of ASUU members.
The management of the University of Ilorin shifted all examinations scheduled for Wednesday to Saturday following a work-free day declared by the local branch of ASUU.
The union, in a statement jointly signed by Prof Moyosore Ajao and Dr A. G. Olatunji, Chairman and Secretary of the UNILORIN branch of the union, respectively, after a congress held on Tuesday said it members would observe a work-free day on Wednesday, during which members would attend to no official duty.