The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has formally directed all its members in public and private universities in the country to commence an indefinite strike.
Biodun Ogunyemi, President of ASUU, who declared the strike at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, said the federal government had failed to meet up with five issues that have formed the basis of negotiations between the two parties.
He said there shall be no teaching, examination and attendance of statutory meetings of any kind during the strike in any of the union’s branches.
Ogunyemi said ASUU was out to make the federal and state governments implement the provision of the 2009 Agreement, the MoU of 2013 and the understanding reached in November 2016.
“To have public universities that will be pride of all, to secure the future of our children and their own children’s future, and to lay the foundation for a university system capable of producing a country of our dream, we must make the Federal and State governments implement the provision of the 2009 Agreement, the MoU of 2013 and the understanding reached in November 2016,” he said.
Accordingly, he listed five issues in the current dispute, noting that substantial aspects of the 2009 Agreement and 2013 MoU remained unimplemented.
FUNDING FOR REVITALISATION OF PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES
He lamented that the federal government promised to release N200billion as revitalisationn fund for public universities in 2013 and a yearly release of N220billion subsequently from 2014 to 2018. To date, he said, government is in the arrears of N825billion as the outstanding total of releases in respect of this fund.
EARNED ACADEMIC ALLOWANCES
Ogunyemi said the problem of EAA has become a sore thumb adversely affecting morale and productivity on the campuses. He said EAA was a major aspect of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement and a key issue in the strike action and consequent upon MoU 2013, but nothing had been done by the government concerning the payment of the EAA despite series of meetings between the union and the government team.
He highlighted the third issue as the registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO) and pension matters. He lamented the non-release of the operational licence of NUPEMCO and retired professors’ pensions.
UNIVERSITY STAFF SCHOOLS
In the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, it is stated that the federal government shall bear the full capital and recurrent cost of the university staff primary schools. But Ogunyemi said the federal government had failed to direct vice chancellors to carry out this agreement despite a court ruling that declared as illegal the sudden abrogation of that aspect of the agreement by the government.
He said the new form of enslavement being perfected by the federal and state governments is evident in the unjust and condemnable practice of payment of fractions or outright non-payment of staff salaries.
“Our members have continued to experience financial embarrassment arising from unpredictable monthly salary cuts,” he said.
“We have brought up these areas in a number of interactions with the media and, more recently, in our two-page advertisement in some Nigerian dailies on June 9, 2017.”
He lamented that efforts to address these issues fizzled out when the union suspended the warning strike it commenced on November 16, 2016 when the strike was suspended on November 22, 2016.
ASUU, he explained, did its best afterwards to get the federal government to fulfill its promises through series of letters and consultation meetings, but “all was to no avail”.
“Meanwhile, our members across the country were getting increasingly frustrated, distracted and disenchanted. It became evident that their patience had been tasked beyond reasonable limits and government’s insensitivity imposed severe burden on the leadership of the union,” he said.
“Consequently, based on a nationwide consultation with our members, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU rose on Saturday, August 12, 2017 with a resolution to embark on an indefinite strike action starting from Sunday, August 13, 2017.
“The nationwide action is total and comprehensive.”