ASUU Threatens Again to Strike over 2009 Agreement

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Biodun Ogunyemi

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities is still threatening to go on soon strike if the federal government fails to meet its demand

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Sep 12, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT  |

FOR the second time in less than two weeks, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has warned that the federal government’s failure to implement the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement may lead to another industrial action. Olusiji Sowande, zone coordinator, ASUU Lagos, said the union is surprised that the federal and state governments are not responding to their appeals.

Sowande, who spoke at the University of Lagos, said, “We are perplexed and disappointed that the federal and state governments are not responding to our consistent appeals to bring about genuine transformation driven by highly-motivated human capital in the education sector.’’

According to him, embarking on strike has never been a favoured choice as its members feel and suffer the most during and after every strike. He expressed regret that the only language government appears to respect and listen to is that of strike. “Let it be known that our union, as in the past, if it becomes inevitable would once again sacrifice the comfort of its members and take up the patriotic duty of rescuing our education system.’’

In order to forestall this avoidable crisis, the union urged individuals and groups to prevail on the Nigerian government to arrest the situation before it degenerates into a serious conflagration.

Biodun Ogunyemi, president, ASUU, had on Wednesday, August 17, accused the federal government of allegedly violating the agreements both parties reached in 2009, warning that its members were running out of patience. The union said Nigerian universities are sinking in serious financial crisis with budgetary allocation to education sector dropping from 11 percent in 2015 to a mere eight percent in 2016.

He described the current state of the nation’s universities as grave and depressing, and called for urgent efforts to rescue the situation. He accused the federal government of owing the union more than N128 billion after signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, in 2009.

He said government’s reluctance to implement the regime of allowances and other aspects of the 2009 agreement has provoked relentless agitation and called for decisive steps to douse the mounting tension in universities across the nation.

The ASUU president also decried the infrastructure decay in state universities in the country, which he said was part of the issues addressed in the 2009 federal government/ASUU agreement. He said some state governments that failed to fulfil their obligations towards existing universities went ahead to establish new ones.

Citing Edo, Ondo and Bayelsa States, as examples, Ogunyemi noted that one common thread in the so called world-class universities was their location in communities where the founding governors came from. The union urged the National Universities Commission, NUC, to stop licensing more state universities, especially, where a state is struggling to fund the existing ones.

Realnews investigations have shown that the ASUU/federal government agreement of 2009 includes funding requirements for revitalising the Nigerian Universities; federal government’s assistance to state universities; progressive increase of annual budgetary allocation of 26 percent to education from 2009 to 2020 fiscal years and amendment to the pension/retirement age of academics on professorial cadre from 65 to 70 years.

Others are establishment of pension fund administrator and governing council; transfer of federal government landed properties to universities for setting-up of research and development units by companies operating in Nigeria; provision of adequate teaching and research equipment and payment of earned allowances of between N87 billion and N92 billion accumulated since 2009.

Critics of ASUU believed that other than demands for payment of the accumulated arrears of earned allowances and amendment to the pension/retirement age of academics on professorial cadre from 65 to 70 years, the union should advocate for total overhaul of the education system in the country.

As at December 2012, there are 37 federal, 37 state and 50 private universities in Nigeria bringing the total number of accredited universities to 124. Also, out of 97 polytechnics in the country, the federal government has 36, States, 48 and private, 13. Out of 50 colleges of education in the country, federal government controls 17, States 30 and private, three, and out of 26 monotechnics existing in Nigeria, federal government has 22, states, two and private, two. This brings the total to 297 higher education colleges or degree awarding institutions in Nigeria.

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