The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said it has postponed a decision on whether to embark on its planned strike as it has resolved to review the situation at a later date with a view to deciding on the next line of action.
This is as the union has accused the Federal Government and its agencies of blackmail and propaganda despite its failure to address all the issues raised in its previous agreements.
This disclosure is contained in a press statement issued by the union after an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at its Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, on Saturday, December 18, 2021, and signed by its National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke.
ASUU in the statement titled, ‘Enough of the blackmail’, said that the meeting was held to review the level of government’s implementation of the FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action of December 23, 2020 and other related matters.
The NEC meeting of ASUU was held against the backdrop of the union’s numerous consultative meetings, communications and discussions with relevant agents at both the executive and legislative arms of government since the suspension of the 2020 strike action.
The statement from ASUU 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 Solution (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.
‘’NEC took full account of efforts by student union bodies, leading media practitioners and organisations, religious and opinion leaders, frontline traditional rulers, civil society organisations and other interest groups within and outside Nigeria to make government address all outstanding issues arising from the December 2020 MoA. In particular, special cognisance was taken of the pledges made by the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) to make further consultations on the crisis in the coming days with a view to finding an amicable resolution.
‘’NEC concluded that government has failed to satisfactorily address all the issues raised in the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement and subsequent MoUs and MoAs. However, considering the ongoing intervention and consultation efforts, NEC resolved to review the situation at a later date with a view to deciding on the next line of action.’’
On the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), ASUU wondered why it would take over a year to get the needed feedback on a home-grown solution at a time Nigeria is yearning for local content.
It, however, said it was pleased with the end-user evaluation report by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on its University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and said it was prepared to address all the technical observations made by NITDA in order to make this happen.