Regina Otokpa, Abuja
Following the expiration of the 21-day ultimatum issued by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to the Federal Government over failure to meet its demands, the Union has postponed its decision to embark or not to embark on strike to a later date yet to be disclosed.
This came as the Union accused the Federal Government of blackmailing lecturers by reducing their demands to payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), despite having failed to address all issues raised in the various agreements signed from 2009 satisfactorily.
ASUU made this known at the end of its emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, which held at the University of Abuja to review the level of government’s implementation of the FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) of December 23, 2020 and other related matters.
A communique signed by ASUU’s President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, maintained that the Union would continue to pursue its rights and spare no efforts in its struggle to reposition public universities and by extension, transform the country.
The communique partly reads: “NEC was worried by the spirited efforts of government agents to reduce the demands of ASUU to a regime of intermittent payment of watered-down revitalisation fund and release of distorted and grossly devalued Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
“NEC condemns, in strong terms, the surreptitious moves to pooh-pooh our demands on the review of the NUC’s Act to curb the proliferation of universities by state governments who are not funding the existing ones; adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solutions (UTAS) with concurrent discontinuance of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and distortion in salary payment; release of accumulated promotion arrears; and the review and signing of the draft document on the Renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement.
“ASUU shall not relent in demanding for improvement in the welfare and conditions of service of our members. However, we shall resist any attempt to blackmail the union and derail our patriotic struggle for a productive university system by official propaganda founded on tokenism and crumb-sharing.
“NEC noted with regrets that the Federal Government has turned its back on plan to set up an inter-ministerial committee to review the draft Renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement to enable the parties conclude a negotiation process which began in March 2017.This is contrary to the assurance given the leadership of ASUU by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, at a meeting with the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives on 19th November, 2021.
“The Minister assured us that the process of reviewing the document would be set in motion within one week from that date. Hon. Nwajiuba’s failure to fulfil a promise made in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly is not only provocative but reminiscent of trust-deficit that has bedevilled all agreements and understandings reached with this government and those before it since 2009.
“NEC reviewed the letter by the Minister of Labour and Employment conveying the report of the ‘integrity test’ on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. The union wonders why it would take more than one year to get the needed feedback on a home-grown solution at a time Nigeria is yearning for ‘local content’.”