End of ASUU Nightmare

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After more than five months, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have agreed to suspend their strike and return to lecture halls immediately

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 23, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

AT last the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has on December 17, suspended its five-month old industrial action. The union announced the suspension in Minna, Niger state, after its National Executive Council, NEC, agreed on new funding terms with the federal government.

The union therefore directed its branches nationwide to resume work immediately and urged the federal government to implement their December 11, resolutions. The lecturers had long been expected to call off their strike which commenced on July 1, after they signed an agreement with the federal government last week.

The union’s leadership were locked in a marathon meeting at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, between midday on Monday, December 16 and Tuesday morning, December 17. Nasir Fagge, ASUU president, said after the meeting that the ASUU has concluded its National Executive Council meeting and accordingly decided to suspend the strike.

Karo Ogbinaka, ASUU chairman, University of Lagos chapter, told Channels Television that the union decided to suspend the strike after a marathon meeting in Minna. He said in line with procedures, the different chapters of ASUU would hold congress meetings on Wednesday, December 18, to inform members and managements of the institutions of the latest development. “We expect the students to resume and expect the union members to go back to class immediately after the congress meeting and we expect the government to keep to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU,” he said. According to Ogninaka, the union and the government would hold meetings in 2014 to look at gray areas that may arise and come to a common ground.

The federal government and the ASUU had reached a compromise during a negotiation brokered by Abdulwaheed Omar, president, Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, on Wednesday, December 11, which led to the signing of the MoU. The union signed the agreement after the presidency presented a proof of payment of N200 billion into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as part of agreed funding to offset the lecturers’ demands and moreover, the federal government also promised to set up a committee to fully implement the agreement with the union.

Realnews gathered that the MoU addressed all the resolutions that the leadership of the ASUU and the federal government agreed to in their 13-hour meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 4, as well as their widely criticised fresh demands. The ASUU demands included the upward review of the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70; adequate funding to revitalise the university system; progressive increase of budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26 percent; transfer of federal government property to universities; setting up of research and development units by the universities; and renegotiation of the signed agreement.

The fresh demands include a non-victimisation clause, provision and deposit of N200 billion infrastructure revitalisation funds in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, details of disbursement of the funds and payment of salary arrears which has accrued to the teachers during the strike.

Nigeria’s university lecturers had been on strike since July 1, 2013 to demand full implementation of the 2009 agreement the ASUU reached with the federal government on conditions of service for university lecturers, and funding of infrastructural development in Nigerian universities. The meeting was attended by ASUU branch chairmen and secretaries, the national executive members of the union, coordinators and past leaders, including members from 52 universities.

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