Half-Salary: FG Paid What Is Due To ASUU Members – Minister

 

Amidst ongoing protests by the Academic Staff Union of Universities over part payment of salaries by the Federal Government in October, the Federal Government has maintained its position that the lecturers would not be paid for work not done.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated this on Wednesday after the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.

The part payment followed the suspension of ASUU’s eight-month strike, in line with an order by the National Industrial Court for the lecturers to return to work.

Responding to allegations by the National President of ASUU, Prof, Emmanuel Osodoke that the part payment was simply a tactic to casualise lecturers in the university system, the minister stated that the government held no such plans.

READ ALSO: Half-Salary: Ngige Can No Longer Mediate Amid Industrial Court Case – ASUU

A file photo of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu.

 

“The strike has been called off and the government has paid them what is due to them. I think that is the position of the government, that it is not going to pay anyone for work not done and they only did the number of days that they were paid,” Adamu said.

“How can anybody make a university lecturer a casual worker? It is impossible to make a university lecturer a casual worker.”

Osodeke, on Tuesday, criticised the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over his alleged authorisation of the part-payment of salaries to members of the union.

‘Ngige no longer mediator’

National President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on November 15, 2022.

 

ASUU, on Tuesday, criticised the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige for his alleged involvement in the part payment to union members.

“He (Ngige) has gone to court, which means he has lost his right as a conciliator. Once he has taken this case to the Industrial Court, he has lost that right as a conciliator; he has no say again, but he’s still interloping,” Osodeke said.

Asked what role the Minister of Labour currently plays in the matter, the ASUU president said, “He has nothing. He’s an interloper. If we’re calling him a conciliator, it has gone beyond him.”

Osodeke however expressed confidence that the agitations of the union would be resolved in the interest of students, parents, and the country. According to him, professors on the same salary scale were paid varying amounts, such as N200,000, N180,000, and N90,000.

 

Half-Salary: Ngige Can No Longer Mediate Amid Industrial Court Case – ASUU

National President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on November 15, 2022.

 

The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, on Tuesday, criticised the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over his alleged authorisation of the part-payment of salaries to members of the union.

This comes after ASUU in October suspended its eight-month strike in line with an order by the National Industrial Court for the lecturers to return to work.

ASUU, on Monday, stated that it would embark on a one-day nationwide protest over the part-payment.

“He (Ngige) has gone to court, which means he has lost his right as a conciliator. Once he has taken this case to the Industrial Court, he has lost that right as a conciliator; he has no say again, but he’s still interloping,” Osodeke said on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Asked what role the Minister of Labour currently plays in the matter, the ASUU president said, “He has nothing. He’s an interloper. If we’re calling him a conciliator, it has gone beyond him.

“And we have found that it was he who actually wrote to the Minister of Finance personally, not directed, that they should stop our salary. It’s just personal. We are surprised because, having taken the case to court, by all rights, he has hands are tied. He has no business with what we do.”

READ ALSO: ASUU Protests Half-Salary, Declares Lecture-Free Day

Osodeke expressed confidence that the agitations of the union would be resolved in the interest of students, parents, and the country.

“But to our surprise, the Accountant General Office decided to pay what some people have referred to as half. It’s very sad because professors who are on the same salary scale got varying amounts, N200,000, N180,000, N90,000 and what have you,” he said.

The ASUU president confirmed that the part payment was the first salary paid to union members since the strike commenced.

“The question we need to ask ourselves is, can a Minister of Labour direct the Minister of Finance on what to do? The answer is no. We are under the Ministry of Education, and we thought that anybody that can give such a directive who monitors what we do through the NUC is the Minister of Education.

“It is the Minister of Education, who we are under, and the Speaker on whose intervention we called off the strike because of the issue we said that, one, they are going to pay us backlog of our salaries because ASUU is different from another union,” he said.

FG says no bias in part-payment

The Federal Government has since defended the pro-rata payment to ASUU members in October, saying they cannot be paid for work not done.

Ngige, through the spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, dismissed media reports that the government was biased in paying the university teachers.

“They were paid in pro-rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” the statement partly read.

“Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied,” he said.

‘No work no pay is legal’

Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said the ‘no work no pay’ policy embarked on by the Federal Government during the period of strike is premised on the law.

He said the decision is based on the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.

FG Provides N470bn For Upward Adjustment Of Lecturers’ Salaries

Zainab Ahmed

 

The Federal Government has provided N470bn Special Fund in the 2023 budget for university revitalisation and upward adjustment of lecturers’ salaries.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, who made this known at a briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, explained that the sum was specially provided in the allocation to education for upward adjustment of salaries for university lecturers and revitalization of universities.

The sum of N300bn is for university revitalisation and N170bn for upward adjustments of the university lecturers’ salaries.

According to her, the draft 2023 budget has been prepared on the background of international challenges such as the Russia-Ukraine war and COVID-19 pandemic, adding that revenue generation has been a major challenge to national development in the country.

READ ALSO: N3.36tn Allocated For Fuel Subsidy In 2023, Debt Profile Hits $102bn – FG

On the allocations for critical sectors, she said the sum of 2.05 trillion naira is allocated to education and 1.58 trillion naira for health.

She added that 2.74 trillion naira is allocated to defense and security, infrastructure got 998.9 billion naira while social development and poverty reduction has 756 billion naira.

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) recently suspended their eight-month strike over the upward review of lecturers’ welfare, amongst others.

FG Apologises To Students As ASUU Calls Off Eight-Month Strike

A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
A file photo of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

 

The Federal Government has apologised to students and parents for the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

In a statement on Friday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige assured students that they won’t have to experience the ugly situation in the future.

ASUU embarked on strike on February 14, 2022 over poor welfare of its members amongst others. The union, however, decided to suspend the strike during a meeting of its leadership that started on Thursday night and lasted into the early hours of Friday after a Court of Appeal ruling last week.

READ ALSO: ASUU Strike Must Never Happen Again – Gbajabiamila

In his statement, Ngige, who said the industrial action was unwarranted in the first place, commended those who worked alongside the government to resolve the impasse.

Read full statement:
 

 PRESS STATEMENT  14/10/2022

Ngige Commends Nigerians as ASUU ends strike.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has expressed gratitude to all Nigerians who participated in various ways in the negotiations leading to the calling off  of the eight-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria(ASUU)

A statement by the Deputy Director Press in the Ministry, Olajide Oshundun, Friday assured Nigerians that with the steps the federal government is taking, Nigerian students will be saved  the unpalatable experience of  intermittent, prolonged industrial actions in future.

“In a special way, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige expresses gratitude to the Honourable  Speaker,  Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the leadership of the House of the House of Representatives.

“We particularly  recognize the patriotic efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji  Saad Abubakar III, the former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Supo Ayokunle,  all members of Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) and  the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria  whose wisdom and intervention raised a ray of hope while the strike was at infancy but for ASUU’s  intransigence to negotiation.

“We were forced to migrate the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) created by the 1999 Constitution as amended, for the settlement of industrial disputes because every channel of negotiation including the tripartite plus, in which eminent Nigerians participated in failed.  We were left with no other option than to trigger Section 17 of the Trade Disputes Act .CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 on dispute resolution mechanism in seeking the intervention of the National Industrial Court .

“ Now that ASUU has decided to obey the judgement of the National Industrial Court by calling off the devastating action, we apologize to all students and parents , of which the Honorable Minister is one, for this unduly prolonged strike, which is  unwarranted ab initio.

“We wish to assure that with the decision, steps and measures being taken by the current administration of  President Muhammadu Buhari, in holistic repositioning of higher education, a groundwork is being laid, of which we are confident, will save Nigerians, this unpalatable experience of incessant strike in future.

“ It is verily our hope that now that the strike has been called off, the National Industrial Court will deal with the substantive issues as contained in the referral letter by the Honourable Minister. This is  to ensure that justice is given to all parties including  ASUU and their employers- the Federal Ministry of Education who acts on behalf of  the Federal Government.”

The statement further noted that the Ministry of Labour and Employment will continue to cooperate with both parties in finding amicable solution to other issues not placed before the industrial court, in finding lasting solution  to the instability in the university system.

“ We certainly can’t be less grateful to the judiciary  for deepening our labour jurisprudence in upholding the essence of the 3rdalteration of the 1999 Constitution , especially as it relates to Sections 243 and 254A.”

Olajide Oshundun

Deputy Director Press and Public Relations

ASUU Strike Must Never Happen Again – Gbajabiamila

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said all hands must be on deck to ensure academic strikes in universities become a thing of the past.

The Speaker made the comment in a statement welcoming the end of an eight-month long strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

The academics had demanded better welfare and revitalisation of public universities, among other demands.

While thanking the Federal Government and the ASUU leadership for finding a way to end the strike, Gbajabiamila said it is time to “admit certain harsh truths and take radical action.”

He regretted that the strike lasted for eight months and noted that it should never have happened in the first place.

“Our public universities should be citadels of learning and innovation, where young people discover themselves and reach for the stars,” he said.

Mr Gbajabiamila called on the government, universities, unions, and citizens “to begin the critical conversation about the future of public tertiary education in the country.”

N470bn revitalisation promise

Gbajabiamila’s intervention, along with other House members, was key in ending the eight-month old strike which was at a stalemate after the Federal Government dragged ASUU to court.

After meeting with President Buhari twice last week, the Gbajabiamila committee was able to broker a truce between both parties.

While all of ASUU’s demands have not been met, the Federal Government has made concessions.

In his budget presentation speech last week, President Muhammadu Buhari said a total of N470 billion has been earmarked in the 2023 budget for revitalisation and salary enhancements in the nation’s tertiary institutions, addressing some of ASUU’s main demands.

But the President also noted that government alone cannot continue to provide the resources required for funding tertiary education.

“In most countries, the cost of education is jointly shared between the government and the people, especially at the tertiary level,” the President said. “It is imperative therefore that we introduce a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education.”

He added that his administration was committed to implementing agreements reached with staff unions within the available resources.

 

Strike: FG Alone Can’t Fund Varsities, Parents, Others Should Support – Gov Inuwa

A file photo of Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya.

 

Governor Mohammed Inuwa of Gombe State has said government alone cannot fund universities, suggesting that other stakeholders like parents should support the schools.

The governor made the comment on Friday, hours after ASUU suspended its eight-month industrial in which the lecturers demanded better funding of universities and other issues.

“Strike by ASUU has been a recurrent one and even now I have a belief that it is going to be a temporally one, we need to find a permanent solution to it,” he said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. 

“I will recommend that we look inwards and see that we empower people enough to be part of stakeholders, parents, associations, communities and whatever should be involved in managing these universities by way of support because Federal Government alone cannot support the Nigerian universities, reliance on the Federal Government for the recourses to run the universities at this point in time is something that we have to look into deeper.”

READ ALSOAfter ASUU Strike, Admission Seekers Struggle With Uncertainty

He accused previous governments of signing agreements “carelessly” with the varsity teachers, a development he says has been aggravated by the current financial crisis in Nigeria.

“That is an issue that, like the example, I gave you started earlier on, an agreement that was signed carelessly. It is something that has triggered all these issues, and if you insist, for example now that Nigeria has this problem financially and you want to enforce those conditions that you couldn’t do much earlier some ten to twenty years back, I think you are not doing justice to. To some extent, there must be some political element.

“As leaders what should be our bond? Whatever you agree on make sure you can implement it, if you can’t implement it means that it is going to be a burden on whoever succeeds you.”

ASUU Suspends 8-Month-Old Strike, Says Issues Not ‘Satisfactorily Addressed’

A file photo of ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, addresses journalists in Abuja on November 15, 2021.

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its eight-month-old industrial action. 

The union decided to suspend the strike during a meeting of its leadership that started on Thursday night and lasted into the early hours of Friday.

In a statement by the president of the union Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU said the decision followed a series of appeals by Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representative Femi Gbajabiamila.

“While appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed,” the statement added.

“However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well-meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022.

“Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14th October 2022.”

The meeting was called by the union to determine its next line of action after its state branches met over the Court of Appeal ruling last week.

Prior to the meeting, the Court of Appeal had ordered ASUU to suspend the strike before its appeal of the ruling ordering lecturers to resume work can be heard.

Members of the union’s National Executive Committee, which comprises the chairmen of the state chapters and members of the national executive, attended the meeting at the ASUU National Secretariat in Abuja.

READ ALSO: After ASUU Strike, Admission Seekers Struggle With Uncertainty

The Issues

A photo combination of ASUU president and Labour Minister Chris Ngige.

 

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 this year.

When the lecturers began the strike – initially a four-week industrial action – ASUU said it was pushing for better funding of universities as well as improved welfare for its members based on several deals reached with the government.

ASUU was particularly asking for the release of the revitalisation funds for schools, the payment of earned academic allowances to members, and the release of whitepapers from the reports of the presidential visitation panels. It also demanded the usage of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university workers as against the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Following the Federal Government and ASUU’s inability to reach a deal, the union kept extending the industrial action before making it indefinite in August.

In the wake of the tussle, the Federal Government registered two factional unions –  the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

But ASUU had said it was not bothered about the government’s move, describing it as “illegal”.

Read Osodeke’s press statement below:
PRESS RELEASE

13 October, 2022

ASUU SUSPENDS ITS STRIKE ACTION

1. The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja, on Thursday, 13th October, 2022. The meeting reviewed developments since the Union declared an indefinite strike action on 29th August, 2022.

2. During the intervening period, the Minister of Labour and Employment, through a referral, approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) for the interpretation of “the provision of sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, whether the on-going prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which started since 14th February, 2022 is legal even after statutory apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment?” In addition, he asked for an interlocutory order against the continuation of the strike.

3. The National Industrial Court in its wisdom gave an order compelling ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the substantive suit. Given the nature of the order, and in the opinion of our counsel, there was the need to appeal the interlocutory injunction granted against our Union at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal acknowledged the validity of the grounds of the Union’s appeal but still upheld the order of the lower court and ordered our Union to comply with the ruling of the lower court as condition precedent for the appeal to be heard.

4. NEC noted the series of meetings with the leadership of the House of Representatives led by the Hon. Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as intervention efforts of other well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside government and the progress made so far.

1

5. NEC deliberated on the recommendations of the Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila-led Committee within the framework of the FGN/ASUU’s Memorandum of Action(MoA) of 2020 on the contending issues that led to the strike action. For

the avoidance of doubt, the issues include: Funding for Revitalisation of public universities ⚫ Earned Academic Allowances

Proliferation of public Universities

Visitation Panels/Release of White Papers

⚫ University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a broad spectrum software to stop illegality and provide for an alternative

payment platform in the university system. Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement

6. While appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

7. However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022. Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14th October, 2022.

Thank you.

Emmanuel Osodeke President

13th October, 2022

ASUU Vs FG: Court Grants Striking Lecturers Conditional Leave To Appeal

A photo combination of ASUU president and Ngige.

 

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has granted leave to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to appeal the decision of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria delivered on the 21st of September.

In a ruling delivered by Justice Hamman Barka on October 7, 2022, and made public today, the court granted ASUU seven days to file its notice of appeal before the National Industrial Court on the condition that the order of the lower court is obeyed immediately.

ASUU had on September 28, 2022 applied to the court to grant it leave to appeal against the interlocutory order of Justice Polycarp Hamman of the National Industrial Court.

ASUU also asked for an order staying execution of the decision of the National Industrial Court pending the hearing and determination of its appeal.


READ ALSO: ASUU Set To Meet Over Strike Decision


ASUU brought the application both on grounds of law and on fundamental human rights and amongst other things, it asked the court not to shut out thousands of its members who are desirous of ventilating their grievances.

ASUU also held that the ruling of the National Industrial Court affects its members’ right to fair hearing and it would be in the interest of justice to stay the execution of the decision pending the hearing and determination of its appeal.

The reliefs were brought pursuant to Section 6(6) (b), 36 (1) and 243 (3) of the 1999 constitution as amended and Order 6 Rule s 1(1), and Order 10 (1) of the Court of Appeal Rules 2021.

The Federal Government through its lawyers filed a counter affidavit in opposition to ASUU’s application. Among other things, the FG challenged ASUU’s subsequent move to withdraw its application seeking a stay of execution of the decision of the National Industrial Court.

In its ruling, the court of appeal held that ASUU can withdraw its application seeking a stay of execution and same was accordingly struck out.

More worrisome for the court was the failure of ASUU to obey the decision of the National Industrial Court, a situation which led the FG’s lawyer, J. U Igwe to submit that the association was seeking for an order of the court of appeal “with dirty hands”.

After reviewing all the judicial authorities cited, the court of appeal granted the application for leave to appeal the decision of the National Industrial Court on the condition that the order of the court is obeyed immediately.

Eight Months Into ASUU Strike, Admission Seekers Struggle With Uncertainty

Virtually all schools were closed across Nigeria between March and July 2020. Most schools only fully reopened in January 2021, with social distancing measures in place. Credit: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
Credit: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

When Sofia Yusuf registered for the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), she hoped to get admission into one of the nation’s leading universities as soon as possible.

Having scored 260 in the yearly entrance examination on her first attempt, Sofia’s dream of studying Agriculture Economics at the University of Ibadan (UI), became closer to reality. 

But months after the UTME, the Lagos-based admission seeker is still stuck at home due to the lingering industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). In fact, Sofia has yet to sit for the University of Ibadan POST-UTME screening, one of the hurdles she must scale before getting admission into the school. 

Just like Sofia, thousands of candidates who sat for the 2022 UTME and seeking admission into public varsities are still at home, unsure of their admission status due to the protracted ASUU strike.

According to a document released by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) as of last August, public universities had not processed about 461,000 admissions due to the varsity teachers’ strike which has lasted for more than seven months. 

“Some institutions confirmed suspending the process because of the ASUU strike; ASUU strike is a factor; many institutions are yet to commence 2021 admissions despite repeated appeals,” the JAMB document read.

ASUU, which started the latest strike in February, is pushing for the signing and implementation of the 2009 negotiated deal it reached with the Federal Government. The union is also calling for the revitalisation of public universities in Nigeria and the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for the payment of members instead of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) currently deployed by the Federal Government. 

While other university unions such as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SANNU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) called off their strike, negotiations between ASUU and the government have since halted and the dispute shifted to the courts.

Like the proverbial grass that suffers when two elephants fight, admission seekers are one of the sets of persons caught in the crossfire between the Federal Government and the public universities’ lecturers. 

The National President of SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, admitted challenges that universities may face due to the admission backlog.

This is a source of concern for him. 

“The strike will definitely affect the 2022 admission…,” he said.

Costly Alternatives

 

UNILAG is one of the top Nigerian universities affected by the industrial stalemate.

 

Unsure of their admission status, the alternatives for these admission seekers are limited and even costly. 

Data from Statista shows that the most expensive private universities in Nigeria charge between N800,000 to N2.4 million per session as tuition fees for an undergraduate programme. The cheaper alternatives take an average of N300,000 based on findings by this writer. 

Going abroad is even costlier. For instance, each Nigerian student in the United Kingdom pays an average of £12,000 just for tuition, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). 

While these institutions could have been good options, their fees are mostly beyond the reach of many Nigerians, a fact one of the UTME candidates, Favour Ogbonna, admitted.

“I wanted to enroll in a [private university] but due to some circumstances, I can’t do such. I changed [my choice of school] because my sponsor said going to a federal university is what is within his budget,” the candidate, who scored 351 in the UTME, said. “So, I just have to change it (to a federal university).

Asides from private and foreign universities, some admission seekers are looking elsewhere. 

Sofia said she “will go for another option” which may be a polytechnic or other higher institutions of learning like a state university (some of them don’t join the ASUU strike). 

It is a similar story for another UTME candidate who simply identified herself as Tolani.  

The youngster, who chose the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) where she intends to study Political Science, said, “Maybe I will apply for a polytechnic”.

On his part, Opeyemi Akinwade said he is “considering enrolling in a state university – because some of them are not part of ASUU”   – meaning they are not on strike. 

Worried Parents, Students

Students had in the wake of the strike protested across the country.

 

For parents, however, the lingering strike has implications beyond the inability to gain admission.

One of them, Mr. Wale Oni, has joined calls for the prompt resolution of the dispute.

He fears that a lack of study and opportunities may push desperate students into crime.

“An idle hand is the devil’s workshop,” the Lagos parent warned.

The National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) said they are ready to support the government if funding is the issue.

“For the mere fact that they cannot resolve the issue amicably and make the lecturers go back to the universities and teach, means that we as parents are claiming it is because of lack of money, and if it is a lack of money, we want to partner with them; contribute,” NAPTAN Chairman Akwa Ibom State, Okuetong Ataide, said.

Admission seekers, who spoke with Channelstv.com, corroborated Oni’s fears about the industrial action, saying their parents are unhappy about the development.

“My parents are worried about the development and me not resuming despite my high score,” Favour admitted.

A University of Benin (UNIBEN) prospect, Faith Edobor Ivie, said her parents share a similar concern. The direct entry candidate said, “the lingering strike has been quite devastating to them”.

She said her inability to sit for the entrance exam at the school has left her “terrified”.

“Most of the time I feel terrified because this is like the first time my quest for knowledge in my academics is been hindered and quite uncertain,” she lamented.

The lady, who is seeking admission to study Mass Communication in one of Nigeria’s leading public varsities, admitted that having been left in limbo since the strike started, the “hope that things will get better depreciates day by day”.

In Opeyemi’s case, the uncertainty about his admission status has ramped up the expectations. 

He said, “everyone expects me to be in school by the end of the year at least”. 

Skilling Up 

Admission seekers are “skilling up” while waiting for admission.

 

As their hopes of gaining admission hang in uncertainty, some of these UTME candidates are seizing the opportunity to either acquire skills or get temporary jobs. 

Favour said she was “into computer training before sitting for UTME [and I am continuing] working under training. I started before the recent ASUU strike”.

Her venture into computer training may have informed her decision in seeking to study Computer Science at the Federal University of Technology (FUTO), Owerri. 

Tolani’s case is almost the same. She is “learning fashion design while awaiting the end of the ASUU strike”. 

While also “preparing for the POST-UTME”, Sofia said she is “actually learning fashion designing while waiting until ASUU calls off the strike”. 

Faith told Channelstv.com that she is “currently an apprentice undergoing training as a hairstylist” as part of strategies to keep herself engaged. 

Opeyemi’s story is slightly different from hers. Having scored 240 in the UTME, the Agriculture student prospect of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) said: “I work and help someone in their office to sell something”.

But those who sat for the 2022 UTME are not the only ones affected by the long-drawn ASUU strike. In some schools, students admitted to study for the 2021/2022 academic session are yet to resume classes.

According to the SSANU president, this has left schools with a huge pile of admissions to process. 

“As you are aware, most universities have not completed their last session,” the SSANU chief added.

“So, there was already an admission that people just registered and had not even started attending lecturers before the strike commenced. About three sets of students are waiting to be admitted to start their courses. The system is saturated.”

One such person who falls into this category of students yet to start lectures even after gaining admission is Afro-fusion maverick Divine Ikubor better known in the entertainment circles as Rema. 

The Dumebi crooner, who had gained admission into the Creative Arts department of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), had lamented the shutdown of academic activities in universities.

“ASUU, since dem give me admission I neva start school o, e don do nau!” the rapper tweeted in Pidgin English in April. 

When the Federal Government introduced the ‘No work, no pay’ policy– which it later set up a committee to review – one of ASUU’s arguments against the move was that the lecturers have a backlog of work to do once the strike ends. 

“For these two sets of students that have been admitted by JAMB, we have to teach them over these periods to ensure that we meet up with the system,” the union’s president, Emmanuel Osodeke argued. “So, we are going to do the backlog of the work we have left behind.”

He maintained that if the government insists on non-payment of the backlog of salaries, “the lectures we should have given [to students] for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 [sessions], should be allowed to go so we start a new session, 2022/2023, in September”.

Legal Brawl, Twists, And Turns

A photo combination of the ASUU president and Ngige.

 

Frustrated by ASUU’s insistence, the Federal Government dragged the union to the National Industrial Court. In the September 21 ruling, the court ordered the lecturers to return to the classrooms. While the varsity teachers filed an appeal, the judgement again did not go in their favour. 

The Court of Appeal, which granted ASUU “conditional leave to appeal the order of the Industrial Court” mandated the union to resume lectures immediately – that is on October 7th, 2022. 

Before then, the Federal Government in what appeared to be a move to break ASUU’s ranks, registered and issued licenses to two factional unions – the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) and the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA). The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the unions will function alongside ASUU. 

But ASUU dismissed the move, insisting it is not bordered by the Federal Government’s action. 

“That does not in any way affect us. We are a disciplined and focused union and we know what we are doing and what we are after,” Osodeke said. “Let them register as many unions as they like. The sky is big enough for birds to fly”.

ASUU also claimed the bodies are illegal, vowing to take legal action against the Federal Government.

While several students had in the past protested against the strike, blocking major roads across the country, and even describing the earlier rulings “as black market judgement’, some are now calling for an out-of-court settlement.

Though hopes are high that the eight-month strike will end soon, the impacts of the industrial action would linger for a long time. Even if ASUU calls off the strike today, the air of uncertainty for admission seekers, the backlog of lectures, and the processing of their admissions will remain big issues.

ASUU Hopeful Strike Will End In ‘Few Days’

A photo combination of ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, President Muhammadu Buhari and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A photo combination of ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, President Muhammadu Buhari and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

After eight months of stalled negotiations with the Federal Government, the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Monday expressed hope that its industrial action will end “in the next few days”.

“We hope that working together, in the next few days, we can put an end to this particular imbroglio in the Nigerian educational system,” ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said at a meeting with the Femi Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives.

Lecturers of public universities have been on strike since February 14, 2022, over poor welfare and unpaid Earned Academic Allowance.

Gbajabiamila had on Friday said the country would soon hear from President Muhammadu Buhari on the protracted ASUU strike.

Gbajabiamila, who met with the President at the State House for the second time in one week over the ASUU strike, said discussions with the President were fruitful, adding that Buhari would make known his decisions to the public after reviewing the lawmakers’ recommendations.

On Monday at a meeting with Gbajabiamila and other members of the green chamber, Osodeke said urged the lawmakers to work alongside university lecturers to end the imbroglio.

He said, “Please, let all of us work together to put a beautiful end to this end to this thing we have started, so that every Nigerian will be proud that we have universities we can be proud of.

“Once again, I want to thank you. I also extend our appreciation to the president for intervening, I want to appeal that in the future, we should not allow strike to linger. Strike should not go beyond two days.

“If the way the National Assembly has intervened, if we had done that long ago, or those in charge of labour and education had done exactly this, we would not be where we are today. We would not have stayed more than two or three weeks on this strike. There is strike all over the world — UK, US, all over — but they don’t allow it to last.”

 

 

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had on Friday ordered the striking lecturers to resume duty immediately.

Counsel for ASUU, Femi Falana, had told Channels Television that the body would call off the strike soon.

“I am reasonably confident that the consultations between the House and the Presidency will yield positive results in the interest of the striking lecturers and the students,” he noted.

The Federal Government had last Tuesday registered two factional academic unions – Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA), a move ASUU declared as illegal.

ASUU To Call Off Strike Soon, Says Falana After Appeal Court Ruling

File photo: Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has reiterated its willingness to call off its eight-month strike, expressing optimism that the ongoing talks between the Presidency and the House of Representatives leadership will yield positive results.

Counsel for ASUU, Femi Falana, stated this on Monday in chat with Channels Television after the Court of Appeal in Abuja ordered the striking lecturers to resume academic duties.

“The legal advice that I will give to my clients is confidential. But I can assure you that the strike will soon be called off,” Falana stated.

Falana said he will advise his clients accordingly once the certified true copy of the court order of last Friday has been made available to him.

“Advising clients to call off a strike is the most difficult aspect of my practice. On one occasion, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) and I spent six hours persuading Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) to call off a strike in compliance with a court order. Our advice to ASUU will be based on the court order and other relevant reports.

“I am reasonably confident that the consultations between the House and the Presidency will yield positive results in the interest of the striking lecturers and the students,” he added.

READ ALSO: [ASUU Strike] Nigerians Will Hear Directly From Buhari, Says Gbajabiamila

Lecturers of public universities have been on strike since February 14, 2022, over poor welfare and unpaid Earned Academic Allowance.

After unfruitful negotiations between ASUU and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the appellate court on Friday ordered the striking lecturers to resume duty immediately.

The Court also granted ASUU “conditional leave to appeal the order of the Industrial Court, while insisting that ASUU must obey the order of the lower court with effect from October 7”.

As talks between ASUU and the Federal Government broke down, Ngige last Tuesday registered two factional academic unions – Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Friday said the country would soon hear from President Muhammadu Buhari on the protracted ASUU strike.

Gbajabiamila, who met with the President at the State House for the second time in one week over the ASUU strike, said discussions with the President were fruitful, adding that Buhari would make known his decisions to the public after reviewing the lawmakers’ recommendations.

During his budget presentation speech at the National Assembly earlier on Friday, Buhari said a total of N470 billion has been earmarked in the 2023 budget for revitalisation and salary enhancements in the nation’s tertiary institutions, addressing some of ASUU’s main demands.

FG’s Registration Of CONUA, NAMDA Attempt To Emasculate ASUU – Official

 

 

The National Investment Secretary of the Academic Staff Union Of Universities (ASUU), Austen Sado, says the registration of two academic unions by the Federal Government is an attempt to emasculate ASUU.

“When you emasculate unions for parochial reasons…that is what it is because I do not imagine the Minister of Labour and Employment (Chris Ngige) will be grinning on television and say, ‘Oh, many will come.’ How dramatic! Is he a member of the union?” Sado stated on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Wednesday.

As talks between ASUU and the Federal Government broke down amid the over seven-month strike by ASUU, the minister on Tuesday registered two factional academic unions – Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

The minister explained that the two bodies will exist alongside ASUU, adding that the two associations will enjoy the rights and privileges accorded to other academic unions in the tertiary education system.

However, Sado on Wednesday warned against multiple unions in the education sector saying it will lead to chaos.

The ASUU official said, “When the minister said many more will come, I am sure that Nigerians, reasonable people are wondering, what is the scheming for? I can imagine tomorrow, we now have the Association of Media Teachers of Universities, then the other one is Association of Pathologists. It’s chaotic.

“If you do not think that there should be some form of organisation because you want to exploit the weakness to achieve a point that is destructive. What the minister of labour is doing to unionism in Nigeria is pyrrhic. Whatever victory that is achieved now is a very disastrous victory because it portends danger to the system not just to academic.”

Sado also took a swipe at CONUA saying it is unfortunate that some individuals have been disruptive to the process yet thinking they are supportive of the system.

READ ALSO: Reach Amicable Agreement, CONUA Appeals To FG, ASUU

CONUA National Coordinator, Niyi Sunmonu, who spoke alongside Sado on the Channels Television’s breakfast show, said his members could benefit from ASUU’s ongoing engagements with the Federal Government.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14, 2022, over unpaid allowances, poor welfare, and payment software, among others.

“The fact that a group of people under CONUA does not believe in strikes does not mean that they are not contributing in one way or the other.

“You can’t in all conscience say we can’t benefit from whatever comes out or whatever the government feels it should do,” Sunmonu said.

However, Sado said, “I will wish that anybody who does not take part in an action does not benefit from the action.”