The Academic Staff Union of Universities has condemned the Federal Government’s handling of the negotiation on its demands and lack-lustre attitude towards the ongoing strike.
The ASUU rollover strike is in its 10th week today and will end in two weeks.
Last week, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, while featuring as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’, asked the union to meet with the Benimi Briggs Committee, stating that the decision to suspend industrial action embarked upon by ASUU could only be taken by the union.
On when the issue would be resolved, the minister had said, “It depends on ASUU. The ball is in their court. They should go and meet the Benimi Briggs Committee and look at what the committee is doing and make further inputs so that the work can be accelerated.”
However, in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday, the President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, revealed that it was shameful for Ngige to tell the union to go and liaise with another party other than the government.
He claimed that the union might have no choice but to roll over the strike after its expiration.
He said, “The rollover ends in two weeks, and there is no information, nothing new from the FG. They didn’t make any effort to get in touch with us or seek ways of ending the strike.
“Our members will decide after two weeks what step to take. We will meet. We are not begging them for discussion; they should invite us for any meeting. That’s the way it should be. We are not on strike with Ngige or Briggs but against the government, so why is he saying we should go and meet one committee or one person? We are on strike against a system. Ngige just talks without thinking. Are we on strike with a particular person?”
Some of ASUU’s demands include the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the UTAS payment platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.
Similarly, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions have reportedly extended their strike by one month.
National President, SSANU, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim; and General Secretary, NASU Mr. Peters Adeyemi, said that it was just unfortunate that the government kept silent and remained adamant and unyielding to the unions’ demands.
Some of the items in the agreement JAC signed with the FG are the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, payment of earned allowances, usurpation on non-academic career positions by vice-chancellors, and inclusion of university staff school into the university community, non-payment of minimum wage arrears, and funding of state universities.
It read, “Deriving from the feedback received from our branches in respect of the resolutions conducted which supported fully the ongoing strike and other actions to be taken by the leadership of JAC, this is to inform members that the strike has been extended by one month to commence on midnight of Sunday, 24th April, 2022 pending when the government will have change of heart and be favourably disposed to our demands as highlighted in our letters dated 1st March, 2022 and 16th March, 2022 to the representative of the government and the Honourable Minister of Labour & Employment.”