UPDATE: Why We Susp...
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UPDATE: Why We Suspended Our Strike – ASUU

Umah Muhammed
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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday announced that it suspended its nine-month-old industrial action which started since March 2020 following thorough discussions and conclusions reached using the “Memorandum of Action” at a meeting with federal government on Tuesday.

President of the Union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, who announced the suspension of the strike at a press briefing in University of Abuja main Campus, said the lecturers sympathised with students who were also their children, noting that “no amount of sacrifice would be too much to get the matter resolved as long as the government is consistent with its commitments.”

Daily Trust had reported that the union was set to suspend its strike following payment of two-months’ salary arrears – a development some lecturers at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and University of Ibadan (UI) confirmed to our correspondent during separate telephone interviews.

Government would disappoint those planning to protest

The minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who led the government delegation explained during Tuesday’s meeting that those planning to protest in January after Yuletide against the strike would be dissapointed.

The minister who assured angry students had said, “The government would disappoint all those wishing for the protests as all the matters in dispute must have been resolved by January 15.

“Those who want to use the # EndASUU protest to destroy public and private property or lecturers ’ homes will be disappointed. I am optimistic that the meeting will produce the final result that will make everybody happy.”

Speaking at the briefing, the union reiterated the contentious issues, most of which arose from 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement as: Funding for Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), Salary Shortfall, State Universities, Visitation Panels, Reconstitution of the Government Renegotiating Team and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

He maintained that the union would not succumb to any pressure that could distract it from achieving its objectives, saying federal government should reverse the decay in the Nigerian University System, in order to reposition it for greater responsibilities in national development.

According to him, government must reverse the brain drain, not only by enhancing the remuneration of academic staff, but also by disengaging them from the encumbrances of a unified civil service wage structure.

The union leader, who argued that ASUU objectives were captured and made more potent by the findings of Federal Government Committee on the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities in 2012, added that it must ensure genuine University autonomy and academic freedom.

Speaking further, Ogunyemi said NEC resolves to conditionally suspend with the effect from 12 a.m, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.

“However, should government fail to fulllfil its own parts of the agreement, ASUU will resume its suspended strike as deemed necessary.

“NEC resolved to accept the agreement reached between ASUU and the Federal Government on Dec. 22. To also consciously and diligently monitor the implementation of Federal Government ASUU agreements of Dec. 22, in all branches.

“NEC also resolved to ensure that no ASUU member suffered any loss of deserved benefits as a result if participation in the strike,” he said.

He said that NEC would pursue fervently the areas in the Federal Government-ASUU agreement of 2009 and Memorandum of Action (MoA) 2013 that require legislation.

He added that such as the mainstreaming of EAA into the annual budget and the Executive Bill in respect of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Act, 2004.

Ogunyemi also said that ASUU expectation from both state and Federal Government is that government should faithfully implement all the agreements reached and signed with the union.

“Therefore the implementation Monitorng Committee (IMC), which had already been constituted to the satisfaction of government and ASUU, will work diligently to ensure that funds released are used to meet genuine revitalization needs of Nigerian public universities.

“This is with a strike and disciplined supervision of the implementation processes by the universitas themselves. To this end the students and their parents would see the fruits of the struggles of ASUU in their lives.

“The union expects the immediate release of EAA as agreed, the mainstreaming of EAA into annual budget using the agree formula.

“The union also expects government to immediately engage the universities and other research centers in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

This is one of the challenges that the universities have been asking the government to throw to Nigerian academics,” he said.

Development of UTAS

The ASUU president also called on government expedite action on the test processes and ensure the development of UTAS for the payment of salaries in the university system.

He added that this software will assist Government in its fight against corruption and thus play an important role in maintaining a high stand of accountability in the education sector.

He also said that union expects that government and ASUU re-negotiation exercise would be concluded as specified in the timeline agreed by both parties, among others.

“On our part we are going back to rekindle the motivation and aspirations in our members to strive to encourage our students to excel, in all the expectations that governments will sincerely fulfill their own part of the bargain, ” he said.

Source: Daily trust Newspaper

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