Another Dashed Hope

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Nasir Isa Fagge, ASUU president

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has again dashed the hopes of students and parents by making new demands on the federal government as a pre-condition to end its strike

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE hope of ending the ongoing industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, in the nearest future is fast diminishing. The union has made fresh demands on the federal government before it could call off the strike. After the union’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Kano, on November 23, ASUU agreed that the strike would continue until it got concrete assurance of implementation of all agreements from the federal government.

The union also said it would not suspend its ongoing strike until the four months salaries owed its members were paid. The union also wants an immediate implementation of the N1.2 trillion offer by the federal government to public universities, starting with the release of N100 billion this year. The balance of N1.1 trillion is to be spread over five years from 2014. These were some of the resolutions reached by members of the National Executive Committee of the union who met on Friday, November 22. to deliberate on whether to call off the over four- month-old industrial action or not.

Wike
Wike

It was also learnt that after arguments for and against, about 60 percent of the members of the NEC voted in favour of the discontinuation of the strike while the remaining 40 percent voted to continue. Majority of the chapters of the union had agreed to the suspension of the strike following the fresh commitment the leadership of ASUU obtained from the government. It was also gathered that the NEC members unanimously agreed that before the strike could be called off, the leadership should ask the government to pay the four-month salary arrears being owed university teachers while the offer made by the government should be implemented immediately.

But the federal government has condemned the new conditions which ASUU insists must be met before the strike could be called off. Nyesom Wike, minister of education, who condemned the new conditions, said he would present them before President Jonathan. “I will have to see Mr. President to see how the government can go about this development, which is not favourable. It is outrageous. ASUU is now making fresh demands and this will definitely need further discussion,” he said.

A key component of the agreement reached by both ASUU and the federal government when President Goodluck Jonathan, led the government team to the negotiation table was that government would inject N1.2 trillion into public universities. The government also agreed that the N1.2 trillion would be domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria to show its commitment to the agreement. The money is expected to be released on a quarterly basis to the universities so that there won’t be any problem about implementing the deal. The National Universities Commission and the Trade Union Congress will be the joint guarantors of the agreement while the minister of education will be the implementing officer. The government also agreed to revamp public universities by ensuring that all the issues that always lead to strike were dealt with once and for all.

The ASUU had embarked on the strike in July, following the failure of the federal government to implement a 2009 agreement it entered into with the union, citing the needs to upgrade the universities to world standard and improve the condition of service of the lecturers, among others. With the federal government releasing N100 billion for infrastructural improvement in the universities and N40 billion to be shared as earned allowances, with a promise to make more funds available in future, it is disheartening that the ASUU is coming up with new demands to justify the prolongation of its strike.

Meanwhile, the federal government has ordered university lecturers to return to work and that those who fail to do so by December 4, should be sacked by the university authorities.

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