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Tired of fruitless meetings with FG, ASUU vows to embark on indefinite strike

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THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Friday vowed to embark on indefinite strike, saying it was tired of holding fruitless meetings with the Federal Government.

Chairman of the ASUU chapter in University of Jos Lazarus Maigoro made the union’s position known at a press briefing.

“In the meantime, we are resolved to proceed on an indefinite and comprehensive strike until fidelity returns to our relationship with the government and our demands are met. We are tired of the back and forth,” he said.

Maigoro said several attempts to have meaningful discussions with the government towards repositioning the country’s higher educational system had failed.

He said that the Federal Government had not expressed any practical commitment towards the agreements it had with the union in the past year.

“In the last one year, our union has been engaged with the Federal Government and its officials over demands which, if met, would lift the standard of our battered tertiary institutions, especially the universities.

“ASUU has had several meetings with the minister of labour, officials of the Federal Ministry of Education, the NUC, and NITDA and, very recently with the Chief of Staff to the President.

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“The undisputed crisis in our educational sector has met, as with other consequences, nothing but the same response.”

He faulted the Federal Government’s plan to continue implementing the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) despite reported fraud indicated in the 2021 audit report released by the Auditor General of the Federation.

While appreciating the efforts of interreligious groups in trying to proffer a solution to the impasse with the government, ASUU said it was not rational to continue to have the same discussions with the Federal Government, especially on an issue it had caused and which it was not ready to resolve.

Last year, in a bid to bring an end to an industrial action that lasted more than six months, the Nigerian government signed a memorandum of understanding with ASUU.

The government promised to pay earned allowances to the lecturers and adopt the union’s University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment of members’ salaries.

The government also agreed to other demands such as renegotiating conditions of service and injection of revitalisation funds.

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige told newsmen in November 2020 that the government had met six of ASUU’s demands.

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But last September, ASUU, in a statement after a meeting at the Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso which was chaired by its Coordinator in LAUTECH Oyebamiji Oyegoke, said that the government only addressed two out of its eight demands in the last nine months.

Oyegoke said that the strike was “a ticking bomb” and expressed concerns that the educational system would be engulfed in another crisis.

“For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU stated that only salary shortfall and setting up of Visitation Panels to the Federal Government-owned universities have been addressed by the government in nine months.

“Other demands such as the renegotiation of conditions of service, injection of revitalisation funds, payment of earned academic allowances, implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) have not been addressed,” he said.

Oyegoke added that the government had not addressed other issues such as the proliferation of state universities, release of withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues of unions, all contained on December 22, 2020, Memorandum of Action.

He said the claim by the minister that the money allocated for the revitalisation of public universities had been paid as contained in the 2020 Memorandum of Agreement was not true.

According to him, the minister had confirmed in August that the money was still in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and was only awaiting application by the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu for eventual transfer to the NEEDS Assessment Fund Account.

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Oyegoke also faulted the government’s claim that it was working hard to facilitate the release of money by the CBN since January 2021.

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