BREAKING: Again, ASUU, FG meeting ends in deadlock

The truce meeting between the Federal Government and executive members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has ended in deadlock. DAILY INDEPENDENT has reliably gathered.

Stakeholders at the meeting which involved the professor Nimi Briggs led committee and ASUU officials failed to reach any meaningful resolution after the meeting which lasted several hours at the University of Abuja campus.

A source privy to the meeting noted that the Nimi Briggs committee failed to come with any commitment to resolve the strike rather was appealing to the union to suspend the strike.

Other unions also engaged in strike include the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union of University and Allied Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).

There were initial signs that all the parties involved in the stalemate that has lasted for over six months were ready to come to a compromise, since the President had mandated the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu to intervene within two weeks.

DAILY INDEPENDENT however gathered that some of the demands which ASUU insists must be met may be tabled for extensive deliberations at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting usually presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Recall that while ASUU insists on continuation of its indefinite strike with frequent reviews to elongate the action, a situation that appeals to be causing the Federal Government serious embarrassment.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo had in a recent chat with reporters, called the bluff of ASUU saying the government was not in a position to borrow over N1trillion to settle the lecturers.

Recall also that ASUU recently announced an extension of their strike action by another four weeks, further dimming hopes of students to return to classrooms.

This is coming as the roll-over strike expired on July 31, 2022, a development that may have further compounded the woes of university undergraduates.

ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had disclosed the union’s decision, in a press statement titled, “Review Of The Roll-over Strike.”

He said the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union took the decision after extensive deliberations and taking cognisance of government’s past failures to abide by its own timelines in addressing issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA).

Osodeke said NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for four weeks to give government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.

The role-over strike action, according to him, is with effect from 12.01a.m. on Monday, August 14, 2022.

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 December 23, 2020.

NEC recalled that government’s failure to conclude the process of renegotiating the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) payment platform, pay outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), release agreed sum of money for the revitalization of public universities (Federal and States), address proliferation and governance issues in State Universities, settle promotion arrears, release withheld salaries of academics, and pay outstanding third-party deductions, led to the initial declaration of the roll-over strike on February 14, 2022.

ASUU NEC also 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.

The Union wondered why it had taken five full months and needless muscle-flexing for government to come to the realisation of the need for honest engagement.

He said, “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, here in Nigeria.

“NEC appreciated the historic nationwide protest of 26th and 27th July, 2022 organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSO) 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 Professor Nimi Briggs-led Committee is further tasking the patience of ASUU members nationwide.

“NEC further observed that the on-going trial of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, on allegation of monumental fraud has vindicated ASUU’s rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS). 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-à-vis IPPIS without further delay. ASUU shall resist any attempt to truncate the deployment of UTAS with all legitimate means available to the Union.

“NEC noted that cumulative indifference by the political class gave vent to pervasive atmosphere of insecurity which now threatens seamless provision of educational services in the country. The unceremonious closure of educational institutions in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following the recent attack on Presidential Guards, betrays a panicky measure to addressing a malignant ailment. Nothing short of a comprehensive overhaul of the security architecture of the country will sustainably address the problem.

“Following extensive deliberations and taking cognisance of Government’s past failures to abide by its own timelines in addressing issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA), NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for four weeks to give Government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues. The role-over strike action is with effect from 12.01a.m. on Monday, 14 August, 2022.”

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