The Academic Staff Union of Universities said on Tuesday that the July ultimatum it issued elicited no response from the Federal Government.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, the National President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Oshodeke, stated that the government had not implemented the agreement reached with the union and had not responded to the ultimatum.
The union issued a new ultimatum to the Federal Government on July 19: pay the outstanding 10-month arrears of its members’ salaries or face another strike.
The union has given the government until August 31 to meet its demands, which include resolving issues with the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System platform.
All ASUU zones across the country held press conferences between September 10 and September 20, 2021, urging the government to implement their demands.
They also urged Nigerians to hold the Federal Government accountable if the university lecturers went on strike again.
In response to The PUNCH’s inquiries on Tuesday, the ASUU president said, “Nothing yet, not a single response from the government.” For the time being, we are in Abuja and will be meeting soon. There has been no single response from the government. We’ll be meeting in Abuja this weekend. We’d like to see what we can do to see them between now and Friday. Despite our letter and press conferences, they are unconcerned because nothing is at stake for them.”
The union had accused the government of failing to carry out the agreement it reached with lecturers in December 2020.
Following a disagreement with the Federal Government over university funding, the IPPIS, implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution, funding and revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, promotion arrears, and renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, ASUU went on strike in March 2020.
ASUU met with the government several times about UTAS, and all of the above issues were approved with the promise of prompt implementation.
The Federal Government’s assurance of implementation, accompanied by the signing of a Memorandum of Action, resulted in the strike being called off on December 24, 2020, after the government also agreed to exclude ASUU from IPPIS.
Dr. Adelaja Odukoya, the zonal coordinator of ASUU-Lagos, said the arrogance with which the government has continued to wish away the collective sacrifice of their members, students, and parents on the struggles was frustrating.
Odukoya claimed that the government’s failure to ensure prompt renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement had consciously “sentenced” ASUU members to “agonizing poverty, encouraged brain drain, and criminally promoted the country’s falling educational standards.”
According to the minister, the FG is not opposing ASUU.
However, in his response, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education, denied ASUU’s claims that the Federal Government had abandoned its leadership.
In an interview with one of our correspondents, the minister stated that ASUU leaders would not approach the government and that no one would respond to them.
On some of the demands made by ASUU in its now-expired ultimatum to the government, Nwajiuba insisted that the National Universities Commission was working on them and that an announcement would be made once the assignment was completed.
“No one is avoiding ASUU,” he said. Inquire as to who they contacted. Didn’t I answer your call?
“We have already stated that the NUC is working on the issues with the universities and that once they are finished, they will issue a statement.
“There is no way ASUU will reach out to them, and no one will respond to them.
“The message is straightforward. The NUC is working on the issues raised; once they are completed, a statement will be issued to keep everyone informed of the situation on the ground.
EKSU ASUU opposes reduced subvention and declares a 48-hour strike.
In a related development, ASUU at Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, gave the university council and management 48 hours on Tuesday to act on its demands contained in its letter dated September 16th, or risk lecturers going on strike.
Dr Kayode Arogundade, Chairman of ASUU EKSU, stated that if the governing council discussed the letter at its Tuesday meeting, the union would give the council and management two weeks to meet the demands, failing which academic staff would withdraw their services.
Arogundade objected to the state government’s reduction of the university’s monthly subvention from N260 million to N130 million, as well as unpaid salaries and arrears to academic staff members, whom he said could not continue to work under such dreadful conditions.
In a letter titled, ‘ASUU-EKSU position on government decision to reduce monthly subvention to EKSU for speculative reasons,’ signed by ASUU EKSU Chairman, Arogundade, and Secretary, Dr. Daniel Ogunwale, the demands of ASUU included “immediate reversal of monthly subvention to EKSU to N260 million.”
ASUU also demanded that the state government refund N624 million to EKSU’s purse as the difference in subvention payments to the university since April 20, 2021.
The academic staff also requested an “immediate administrative trial (for alleged administrative infractions) of all alleged actors as identified in the DSS (Department of State Services) report, pending determination of their financial involvement in the alleged fraud.”
They also demanded that “the university bursar be questioned for leading a team that is constantly misleading the University into making incorrect financial decisions,” and that the university bursary be automated as soon as possible. Even more so because the contractor had received advance payment for the project.”
The academic staff claimed in the letter that “the reduction of monthly subvention to EKSU since April 2021 was based on mere speculation and an act of policy inconsistency and a disservice to educational sector players.”
ASUU also claimed in the letter that “the claim that Ekiti State began experiencing a drop in monthly allocation from FAAC (Federation Accounts Allocation Committee) effective from April 2021 is a blatant lie; instead, the state has experienced steady improvement in monthly allocation and steady growth in IGR since then.”
The union mocked the governor, saying he was not fair to education with the cut in subvention, adding, “He stands out as the only governor who reduced monthly subvention to universities in his state during the coverage period and to date.”
Arogundade, who stated that there was no need for additional investment in the demands, stated, “It just requires faithfulness and sincerity of purpose.” If nothing is done with this document within the next 48 hours, we will close the university and all of us will be outside. Allow them to fire all of us if they want to. We’re sick of their nonsense.”