JUST IN: ASUU may embark on indefinite strike

Barring a last-minute change, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will declare an indefinite strike over Federal Government’s failure to meet its demands.

The Nation gathered yesterday that most of the over 123 branches of the union have completed their congresses. Others are expected to round off theirs today.

An ASUU leader, who declined to be named,  said a proposal for the indefinite strike would be ratified and adopted at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of ASUU scheduled for Sunday.

He said: “None of the branches, including the University of Abuja, voted for anything other than an indefinite strike.“All the branches of ASUU are expected to finish their congresses tomorrow (today) and pass their report to NEC.

“NEC will have to meet and review the decisions of all of the branches and decide on what to do.”

The union had on  February 14  declared a one-month warning strike that soon escalated into a full blown work boycott.

Some of the union’s demands are provision of funds for the revitalisation of public universities; payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA)/Earned Allowances (EA); payment of salary shortfalls; an end to the proliferation of state universities,  renegotiation of a 2009 agreement; adoption of  University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university teachers and payment of non-remitted check-off dues.

Minister of Education Adamu Adamu had said last week that the insistence of ASUU on the payment of the withheld salaries was stalling negotiations by the parties.

He added that the government had met all the demands of ASUU, except the arrears payment which  President Muhammadu Buhari rejected when a proposal to the effect was presented to him.

Earlier yesterday, the Ibadan zone of  ASUU alleged that  ‘Undertakers of privatisation’ are waiting in the wings to take over  Federal Government–owned universities.

The zone said the main  goal of the  “undertakers ” was to deny children of the poor  university education.

“What is unveiling before us is deceit, and readiness to bring university education to its kneel after which the undertakers of privatisation will take over,”  the Zonal Coordinator of the union, Prof. Oyebamiji Oyegoke, said yesterday.

Oyegoke added in a statement that the “altruistic “ strike by ASUU would make the government become responsible.

Arguing that the rising number of private universities and polytechnics was a part of the strategies to deny children of the poor good education, he called on the people to join in the union rescuing public universities.

He said: “Nigerians should join ASUU to ask the Federal Government of Nigeria to tow the path of honour by respecting the agreement it freely entered with our union.

“As a body of intellectuals, our Union demands: repositioning our universities for greater efficiency in national development and technological advancement; massive and sustained funding for our universities; a reversal of apparent decay in the university system; and, enhanced and competitive remuneration for overworked academic staff in Nigerian universities.

“It is a sad commentary that a government which was brought into power by a popular mandate of the teaming Nigerian masses has turned full cycle against a key agent of development like the education sector.

“We are pained as a union to observe this government, which is on its way out, keeps a date with history as it struggles to scribble a tragic epigram on our education sector. What a legacy to leave.

“The main issue, involved in the current ASUU travails is about living up to responsibility or the abdication of it. If the government is not a continuum, ASUU as a body of intellectuals would not have been insisting on re-negotiating and implementing an agreement reached and signed with it in 2009 by Federal Government.

“An agreement reached with the government whose re-negotiation ought to have commenced in 2012, did not take off until 2017 under Mr. Wale Babalakin (SAN) who was challenged majorly by ASUU for recommending that students in Nigerian Universities should pay up to a million naira per session as tuition fee.

The recommendations of Munzali Jubril Committee of 2020 were equally rejected by the government. This committee was replaced lately by Nimi Briggs’s Committee in March 2022. For crying out loud, the government has its mind made up ab initio.

“All ASUU’s patriotic yearnings to repositioning public universities, whether federal or state to serve as agents of developmental transformation do not cut any ice with the government.”

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