By JOAN NWAGWU
ABUJA- The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Government over response its demands, and declares a “comprehensive, total and indefinite” strike.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU President made this known in a statement issued at the end of the Union National Executive Council (NEC) emergency meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the statement is entitled “ASUU strikes are to save public universities”.
It would be recalled that the lecturers have been on strike since Feb. 14, over alleged failure of government to keep to agreements entered with the unions.
The demands of the striking lecturers include issues bordering on funding of universities, salaries and earned allowances of lecturers, among others.
Osodeke said that the meeting was called to review developments since its last resolution that rolled over the nationwide strike action for another four weeks starting from Aug 1.
“In view of the foregoing, and following extensive deliberations on government’s response to the resolution of Feb. 14, 2022 , so far, NEC concluded that the demands of the union had not been satisfactorily addressed.
“Consequently, NEC resolved to transmute the roll-over strike to a comprehensive, total and indefinite strike action beginning from 12.01a.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022,’’ he said.
According to him, NEC observed with regret that the union has experienced a lot of deceit of the highest level in the last five and half years as the Federal Government engaged ASUU in fruitless and unending negotiation without a display of utmost fidelity.
Osodeke said that ASUU and other well-meaning Nigerians had expressed serious disappointment and consternation on the attitude of the government conveyed by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
He said that for the avoidance of doubt, however, none of the issues that forced the union to resume the suspended strike as listed in the December 2020 FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) had been satisfactorily addressed by the government to date.
“ The draft renegotiated FGN-ASUU Agreement (second draft) remains unsigned; the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) has not been adopted and deployed to replace the discredited Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
“The White Papers on Visitation Panels to federal universities, if ready as claimed by government more than six months ago, are nowhere to be found,” he said.
He said similarly, government had not delivered on the promised balance of one tranche of the Revitalisation Fund more than one year after, the outstanding two tranches of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) had not been released.
He added that nothing had since happened on the promised support for amendment to the Law of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to stem the tide of proliferation of universities, especially by the state governments.
“NEC was utterly disappointed in agents of government, especially the Minister of Education, for the deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation of facts aimed at scoring cheap political gains.
“It is disheartening to imagine that a minister whose responsibility it is to resolve the crisis can overnight turn round to lead in this ignoble enterprise of distorting facts and misleading Nigerians,’’ he said.
He said NEC observed with displeasure that some mischievous Vice-Chancellors and Chairpersons of Governing Councils of State Universities have evolved disingenuous underhand tactics to undermine the current ASUU struggle in their various universities.
The union president said “ASUU struggles are to save Nigerian public universities irrespective of ownership federal or state.”
He said ASUU shall use all legitimate means at its disposal to protect and defend the interests of its members in public universities who might be victimised on the account of the ongoing struggles.
Osodeke said the NEC noted with pains, its concerns for Nigerian students “who are also our wards and foster children” and condemned government’s seeming indifference to their plights.
He said the union empathised with the students, parents, and other stakeholders in the universities.
He said NEC reaffirmed its belief in the sanctity of a stable academic system.
“Were it within our control, our universities would never have been shut for one day.
“However, ASUU was forced into taking this painful decision to prevent members of the Nigerian children from the ruling class and their foreign collaborators from further destroying whatever is left of our public universities. We are all victims.
“We need the understanding, solidarity and sacrifices of all to ensure that every qualified Nigerian youth who cannot afford the cost of private university education or foreign studies has unhindered access to quality university education,’’ he said.
He said ASUU strikes were aimed at saving public education, and ensuring that governments (Federal and State) use “our common patrimony to support quality public university education. This is our collective obligation.”
He said NEC acknowledged with appreciation past and current efforts by eminent Nigerians and groups to mediate in the lingering crisis.
He said that ASUU would remain focused on the full implementation of the Dec. 23, 2020 Memorandum of Action for quick restoration of industrial harmony in Nigeria’s public universities.(NAN)