Students drop threat as ASUU begins one-month warning strike

University teachers in Nigeria are to commence a four-week strike starting on Monday, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said.

The union announced this as part of its resolutions at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Lagos Monday morning.

 

“… NEC resolved to embark on a four-week roll-over total and comprehensive strike action beginning from Monday 14th February 2022,” the communiqué stated.

Reasons for industrial action

 

Addressing the media at Tayo Aderinokun auditorium at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, the union’s president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke listed as reasons for the strike, the government’s failure to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed between the union and the government; the government’s poor commitment to the payment of academic earned allowance (EAA); the continued use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and refusal to adopt the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), and proliferation of the universities in the country.

 

ASUU also accused the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board(JAMB) of encroaching on the statutory roles of the Senates of universities over the admission of candidates by the institutions.

 

The union also frowned at the recent appointment of Nigeria’s minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Ibrahim, as a professor at a federal university (FUTO) and threatened to sanction all those it said took part in the processes leading to what it described as the illegal appointment.

On IPPIS

 

Speaking on IPPIS, the union in its communiqué, said: “The imposition of this grotesque platform challenged our union to develop an alternative system to IPPIS – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS). This locally developed and cost-effective alternative payment platform has the distinct capacity to check corruption and preserve the hard-earned autonomy of Nigerian universities for the good of the country. Regrettably, FGN is still foot-dragging over its adoption, contrary to an earlier agreement with our union, thereby allowing the financial chaos heralded by IPPIS to continue.”

 

On EAA

 

ASUU said: “Compatriots of the press, the Federal Government promised to mainstream the EAA into the annual federal budget in the various memoranda signed with ASUU and the Government recently released N221 billion for payment of some EAA allowances. However, many years of unpaid entitlements are outstanding, serving as triggers for industrial crisis in our universities.”

 

On visitation panel

 

The union condemned what it termed the continued delay in the release of the white papers on the reports of the visitation panels to the universities. The panels were set up by the government.

 

“Sending Visitation Panels to universities on a periodic (5-yearly) basis is a critical evaluation requirement stipulated in our university laws. Our Union had to embark on an action for the FGN to institute such panels. However, many months after the panels submitted their reports, the White Papers are yet to be released. We call for the immediate release of the White Papers to address numerous lapses in the administration of Nigeria’s federal universities,” ASUU said.

 

Appeal for support

Meanwhile, the union pleaded with Nigerians for understanding, saying the declaration of the strike became very important to preserve the sanctity of the Nigerian university system.

 

“Comrades and compatriots, it was a painful decision for NEC to arrive at the roll-over strike option. Contrary to the views canvassed in some quarters, our union loathes to disrupt academic activities on our campuses. We love our students and respect their parents and guardians. We are also not insensitive to the genuine concerns about stable academic calendars in public universities expressed by patriotic Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria. But the blame should be squarely put at the doorsteps of those who have ignored our patriotic yearnings for a development-oriented education in Nigeria.

 

“The patience of our members has been tasked beyond tolerable limits. The greatest asset of any nation is its human capital. Any nation that pays lip service to education as we currently witness in Nigeria will only grow in age and never experience genuine development. We therefore seek the understanding and support of all stakeholders to make the Nigerian government more responsive to issues of human capital development including health and education,” the union said.

 

NANS warns

 

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has rejected planned strike by ASUU.

 

The union threatened to embark on actions including confrontation to make sure that the strike is suspended and students and lecturers go back to classes.

 

Speaking in an interview, NANS President Asefon Sunday lamented that the Nigerian students were always at the receiving end of the skirmishes between the government and ASUU.

 

Asefon said: “We are not supporting ASUU; we are not supporting the federal government. And whatever we are going to do to make sure we return to class is what we are going to do. And I assure you in the next 24-hours, you are going to see action around this country.

 

“We are going to use the last “C”, which is confrontation. We are going to use confrontation to make sure that our lecturers are back to school.

 

“Any moment from now, you will be reading our actions across the nation. The federal government and ASUU are going to see the wrath of Nigerian students.”

 

The union said the impact of the last nine-month strike suspended in December 2020 by the union is still being felt across universities.

 

“When two elephants fight, the grass suffers. Nigerian students have always been at the receiving end. We have been the ones suffering.”

 

NANS Seeks ministers’ removal

 

Asefon faulted what he described as the failure of the government to address the issues with ASUU for more than a decade.

 

The union called on President Muhammad Buhari to sack the ministers of labour and education, Chris Ngige and Adamu Adamu, respectively, accusing them of insincerity in addressing the union’s demands.

 

“We are not going to take it. And we are rejecting it. And we are calling on the federal government to remove the ministers of labour and education. We need clear headed people. We need people who are sincere,” he said.

 

NANS blames ASUU

 

While it accused the Nigerian government of insincerity, NANS also alleged that ASUU does not consider the interest of students when taking actions.

 

It lamented that ASUU does not carry along NANS in all its activities even though the students are always at the receiving end of ASUU’s issues with the government.

 

The NANS president added that ASUU has offended the Nigerian students for not being able to agree with the government during the last nine-month prolonged strike, and wondered if the same issues could be addressed in one month.

 

He said: “Yes, we understand and believe that everything they are asking for is for the benefit of the Nigerian students but you cannot be asking something for me, as a Nigerian student, and you are not carrying us along. We are also stakeholders in the education sector.

 

“How many times has ASUU as a sister union called the Nigerian students to inform us that this is what is going on? When the new President of ASUU came on board, I tried every possible means as a President of NANS to reach out to him. But he will be telling me to go and relate with the ASUU chairman in my school. Am I the president of SUG in my school?

 

“For those nine months they could not achieve anything and they are now saying they are going for a one-month warning strike. What kind of a warning strike is that?” he wondered. (Premium Times)

Author: Gideon Oluwatobi

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