By Funmilayo Adeyemi
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has extended its roll-over strike by another four weeks to give government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.
The President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
Osodeke said that the roll-over strike action would take effect from 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 1.
He said that the decision was reached at an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council of the union held at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, on July 31.
He said that the meeting was called to review developments since NEC’s resolution to extend its roll-over strike action by another 12 weeks, effective from May 9.
“The NEC meeting took place against the backdrop of government’s obligations as spelt out in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with ASUU on Dec. 23, 2020.
“Specifically, NEC recalled that government’s failure to conclude the process of renegotiating the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deploy the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and pay outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
“Also government failed to release agreed sum of money for the revitalisation of public universities (Federal and States), address proliferation and governance issues in State Universities, settle promotion arrears, and release withheld salaries of academics.
“Also in the agreement is failure to pay outstanding third-party deductions led to the initial declaration of the roll-over strike on Feb. 14, 2022,” he said.
According to him, NEC viewed with seriousness the recent directive given by the President and Visitor to all Federal Universities that the Minister of Education, in consultation with other government officials, should resolve the lingering crisis and report to him within two weeks.
Osodeke, however, expressed worry why it had taken five full months and needless muscle-flexing for government to come to the realisation of the need for honest engagement.
“NEC acknowledged the growing understanding of the issues and the groundswell of support for the union’s principled demand for a globally competitive university education in Nigeria.
“Nigerian universities must not be reduced to constituency projects that merely exist on paper and our scholars must be incentivised to stay back and do what they know best.
“NEC appreciated the historic nationwide protest of July 26th and 27th organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to further create awareness on the antics of the Nigerian ruling class to destroy public education.
“ASUU renews its commitment to the struggles of NLC in championing the cause of the working and suffering Nigerians.
“NEC observed that non-signing of the draft renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement more than one month after it was concluded by Prof. Nimi Briggs-led Committee is further tasking the patience of ASUU members nationwide,” the statement read in part.
The president also said that the on-going trial of the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, on allegation of fraud had vindicated ASUU’s rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS).
According to him, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is enjoined to release reports of the latest tests on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) vis-a-vis IPPIS without further delay.
He, therefore, said that the ASUU would resist any attempt to truncate the deployment of UTAS with all legitimate means available to the union.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the union had been on strike since Feb. 14, over alleged refusal of the government to keep to agreement entered with the union.
The union demands included implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU renegotiation Agreement, deployment of UTAS, payment of outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), promotion arrears, and release withheld salaries of academics. (NAN)