Strike: ASUU To Meet With FG On Tuesday

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities is scheduled to meet with Federal Government representatives on Tuesday over its prolonged strike action.

Speaking on Politics Today, President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke said the meeting was to discuss one of seven issues ASUU is protesting over,

“That is the issue of renegotiation,” Osodeke said, “the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.

“It is not just about wages. It has to do with the system, funding, the structure, the autonomy and other issues; and how to fund universities.

 

“The government has reduced it to just salaries alone. But if they had looked at the whole agreement and implemented it, we will not be talking about funding.”

Professor Osodeke suggested that if Tuesday’s meeting goes well, the strike action may be called off.

“We are willing to sign,” he said.

ASUU’s Demands

ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14.

On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government meet all of its demands. A 12-week extension was announced on May 9.

Since May 9, the union has remained on strike, vowing to persist until its demands are met.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The agreement was struck in 2009.

Another is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The academics have proposed an alternative payroll system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

‘Hard Decisions’ Needed To End ASUU Strike – JAMB Registrar

The registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Professor Ishaq Oloyede has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities to sheathe its sword and come to a truce with the Federal Government over their ongoing strike.

According to the JAMB registrar, both parties will have to take hard decisions if the issues are to be solved permanently,

He made the comments during a tour of some centres in Lagos where JAMB’s mop-up Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination held.

READ ALSO: FG Can’t Borrow N1.1trn To End ASUU Strike – Festus Keyamo

“I appeal to ASUU, I appeal to government,” Professor Oloyede said. “Please solve the problem so our children can go back to school.

“Even if ASUU goes back to the classroom, that will not prevent it from happening tomorrow.

“I believe that what we should do is to look at the system. And take some very hard decisions.

“If we do not take hard decisions, we are postponing the evil day.”

FG Can’t Borrow N1.1trn To End ASUU Strike – Festus Keyamo

 

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, on Friday said it was unrealistic for the Federal Government to borrow money to end the months-long strike embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

He made the comment while speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“Should we go and borrow to pay N1.2 trillion yearly?

“You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion. And you have roads to build, health centres to build, other sectors to take care of.”

READ ALSO: Kaduna University Defies ASUU Strike, Resumes 2020/2021 Academic Semester

The Minister urged parents across the country to beg ASUU.

“Like the President said the other time, those who know them, appeal to their sense of patriotism,” he said.

“Let them go back to classes. They are not the only one in Nigeria. They are not the only ones feeding from the federal purse. The nation cannot grind to a halt because we want to take care of the demands of ASUU.”

ASUU’s Demands

ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14.

On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government meet all of its demands. A 12-week extension was announced on May 9.

Since May 9, the union has remained on strike, vowing to persist until its demands are met.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The agreement was reportedly struck in 2009.

Another is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The academics have proposed an alternative payroll system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

Kaduna University Defies ASUU Strike, Resumes 2020/2021 Academic Semester

Students of Kaduna State University sit for exams.
Students of Kaduna State University sit for exams.

 

The management of Kaduna State University (KASU) has resumed the second semester of the 2020/2021 academic session for its undergraduate and post-graduate students, more than five months after the strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The resumption is for the continuation of the second semester examination which was suspended due to the ASUU strike which commenced in February this year.

Speaking to Channels Television, the acting Vice Chancellor of Kaduna state University, Professor Abdullahi Ashafa explained that the school does not have any industrial dispute with the local branch of ASUU, hence there is no need to continue keeping the student at home.

He warned that there will be severe consequences for students and lecturers who fail to resume for classes as directed by the university management.

‘Not Sensitive’: Gbajabiamila Apologises For Posting Harvard Photos

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

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has apologised for posting pictures of his course attendance at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Many Nigerians criticised the pictures for being insensitive at a time when public universities across the countries have been closed for several months due to striking academics demanding better welfare.

Mr Gbajabiamila, in a series of tweets on Wednesday, acknowledged that the photos had been insensitive but defended his committment to quality education in Nigeria.

“Yesterday I posted a picture of myself at the Harvard Kennedy School, undergoing a course,” he said.

“That post was not sensitive to the present feelings of fellow citizens, especially parents and students who are presently bearing the brunt of the ongoing closure of public universities …owing to the unresolved issues between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“I apologize for the post at this time, and I hope you will understand that it was not my intention to cause disaffection. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, I have made multiple interventions within the powers of the legislature to avert the ongoing strike. I had direct engagements with ASUU and relevant government agencies.

“The House of Representatives is still keenly involved in seeking a resolution to the issues so our students can return to school. We all await the outcome of the 2-week ultimatum given for the conclusion of negotiations with ASUU.

“I have long been a champion of public education in Nigeria, and I have consistently advocated programs, policies, and investments to improve the quality of public education in the country. In my constituency and beyond, I have attracted a new international student hostel in UNILAG.

“I facilitated access to free internet WiFi in ALL public tertiary institutions in Lagos State; provision of modern ICT centres in 24 secondary schools across the state, provision of scholarships and grants to indigent students in selected tertiary institutions, provision of laptops to ALL secondary school teachers in my constituency and hundreds of students, facilitated the renovation of over 15 public schools in Lagos.

“I facilitated the ongoing construction of the Open University Campus and JAMB CBT Centre in my constituency, facilitated the ongoing construction of School Auditoriums in both LASU and School of Legal Studies, Katsina; facilitated the construction of a public library in Ondo;

“I facilitated the ongoing construction of an emergency care centre for the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital amongst other numerous interventions. In keeping with my passion for education.

“I regularly take time to teach in some public secondary schools across the country and will continue to work within the remit of the legislature to provide our young people with access to quality education.”

ASUU Strike: Education Minister Requested Ngige Hands Off Negotiation – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari presides over a meeting to resolve the prolonged strike by university lecturers in Abuja on July 19, 2022.

 

The Presidency says there was no time President Muhammadu Buhari gave an ultimatum to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to resolve the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others in the nation’s public universities.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made the clarification in a statement on Wednesday while giving an insight into discussions at the meeting held the previous day.

He said Adamu requested that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, hands off the negotiation to allow him conclude what he had started with the striking lecturers.

READ ALSO: Buhari Directs Education Minister To Proffer Solution To ASUU Strike In Two Weeks

“The outcome of the meeting held by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday with relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to end the agitations by university unions ought to be beyond spin-doctoring and conjectures,” said the President’s spokesman.

“It is a pity that almost all media houses allowed themselves to be deceived by interested sources that are not the authorised spokesmen of government. Neither during nor after the meeting was any ultimatum given to the Minister of Education.

“During the meeting, the Minister of Education requested that the Minister of Labour hands off the negotiation to allow him lead and conclude what he had earlier on started with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).”

Channels Television had reported a meeting between the President and relevant government Ministries, Agencies, and Departments (MDAs) where he received briefings on the current face-off with the university unions, among other issues.

While this platform reported that President Buhari directed the education minister to proffer a solution to the challenge and report back to him in two weeks, some online news outfits said Adamu was given an ultimatum to resolve the dispute.

Shehu, in the statement, added that the education minister promised that he could get an agreement within the shortest possible time, probably two to three weeks.

The Presidency, according to him, is confident that agreements can be reached in an even shorter period if all parties do not remain obstinate.

“In carrying out this assignment, the Minister will carry along all relevant ministries and agencies with statutory functions and duties relating to the issues involved,” the presidential spokesman said.

“On the part of the administration, all doors remain open for dialogue and the resolution of the issues.”

‘No Going Back,’ ASUU Blames Labour Minister Ngige For Prolonged Strike

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has insisted that it will not back down on the strike by members of the union across the country, which is currently in its fifth month.

ASUU National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, stated this on Tuesday while briefing reporters in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Lecturers in government-owned universities embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the government as the payment system in the university sector.

They had also decried the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the inability of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers, among other issues.

Since the industrial action began, several negotiations between the union and the government have ended in deadlock.

Amid outcry over the effect of the industrial action on the nation’s tertiary education sector, various individuals and groups have asked the government to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

ASUU National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, briefs reporters on the lingering strike by the union in Abuja on July 19, 2022.

 

In his briefing on Tuesday in the nation’s capital, Professor Osedeke said the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige should be blamed for the present situation.

Read the full text of the briefing by the ASUU president below:

Comrades and compatriots of the Press,

It has become imperative for us in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to update Nigerians and lovers of education everywhere in the world on the status of our ongoing nationwide strike action which began on 14th February 2022. The need for doing so could be traced to two sources. First, as a union of intellectuals that deals with facts and verifiable claims, there is need to put the records straight on our engagements with the government.

This need becomes very compelling against the backdrop of the statements recently pushed out from the government quarters. Specifically, there have been insinuations by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that there was no agreement between ASUU and the government; that ASUU sat down to fix its own members’ salaries; and that our Union asked representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to recuse themselves from the negotiations.

Also, it appears that Dr. Ngige has deliberately misrepresented the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention on the collective bargaining agreement and the roles of a conciliator to serve his propagandist interest in this matter.

ON AGREEMENT OR NO AGREEMENT

Following the resumption of the strike action by our Union at the University of Lagos, on the 14th February 2022, we participated at several meetings at the instance of the Ministry of Labour and Employment chaired by Dr. Chris Ngige as “Conciliator”. To our utter dismay, nothing concrete came out of the endless deliberations as the Conciliator kept approbating and reprobating. For instance, he would declare that he fully supported our demand that the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU be speedily concluded within six weeks while at the same time creating an unrealistic pathway to arriving at a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Similarly, Dr. Ngige kept going back and forth on concluding the integrity test for the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for replacing the discredited Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) contrary to the letters and spirit of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of December 2021. Matters got to a head when our Union leaders were forced to express their frustration at one of the so-called conciliatory meetings.

When we expressed our frustration at the manner the engagement processes were going, Dr Chirs Ngige. went on to lampoon the Ministry of Education; saying he was not our employer. At a point, he directed our Union to go and picket the office of the Minister of Education, who is our employer! Subsequently, he tactfully recused himself.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), having observed the snail speed and lack of result, threatened and called on the Federal government to set up a high-powered committee to look into the matter. The NLC’s intervention resulted in the “Tripartite-plus” meeting chaired by the Chief of Staff to the President and Commander in Chief, Prof Ibrahim Gambari on 12th May 2022. Contrary to his claim, the meeting that held at the State House Banquet Hall was not convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

In fact, Dr. Ngige did everything within his capacity to frustrate the suggestion by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, and supported by the Co-chair of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Revd. Dr. Samson Ayokunle, that the embargo placed on university workers’ salaries be lifted to pave way for amicable resolution of the crisis.

For the avoidance of doubt, at no point did ASUU say the President and Commander-in-Chief was going to sign any agreement between us and the government. What we said was that our Draft Agreement was receiving attention by the President. Our claim about a Draft Agreement was predicated on the fact that it was the second document to be produced by a joint Renegotiating Committee of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement comprising representatives of MDAs and the ASUU team.

The first draft was coordinated by Emeritus Prof. Munzali Jibril, who took over the Chairmanship of the joint renegotiating committee from Dr. Wale Babalakin. That draft was submitted in May 2021 but was rejected by the government a year later! The second and current report was arrived at after the government’s team was reconstituted in April 2022 under the Chairmanship of Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs.

The Briggs-led Renegotiating Committee began their work with extensive consultations with heads of relevant units in the MDAs and shared a written submission of their findings with our union. We were reassured then, that the new committee had a clear mandate to review the Munzali-led committee’s report through a collective bargaining process. It was that process that produced a Draft Renegotiated Agreement on 16th June 2022.

The government team was expected to present the draft document to its principal as done a year earlier. ASUU did not expect the President of the Federal Republic to sign the document because neither the 2009 Agreement under review nor any of the previous ones were signed directly by the Head of the Government.

What we said and we are saying is that the government team was expected to obtain the needed clearance to sign the Draft Agreement which came out of a collective bargaining process that began way back in 2017! If Dr. Ngige means well as a “conciliator”, why will he be putting roadblocks on the path to completing a process that has dragged on for more than five years?

LABOUR MINISTER AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

The Ministry of Labour and Employment, as the chief labour ministry of the country, is principally expected to apprehend disputes between employers and employees with a view to settling such disputes. The Ministry shall normally await reports of disputes by either side to the disputes for settlement. When the Minister apprehends a dispute, he/she must communicate to the parties or their representatives, his or her own proposal for the resolution of the dispute.

However, ASUU has always had serious reservations about the claim of “conciliation” by someone who has taken sides in the dispute, or by an unabashed protagonist in the crisis such as the current Minister of Labour and Employment. It is antithetical to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions (98, 151 & 154) on collective bargaining and tripartism.

It is against the principle of natural justice and the doctrine of equality for Dr. Ngige who carries himself as if he has personal scores to settle with ASUU and shoots down the Union everywhere it matters to assume the role of conciliator.

The Trade Dispute Act, the principal legislation for labour relations, does not empower the Minister to assume the office of conciliator. This is to guarantee the principle of ‘’good faith’’ in negotiations, which implies making every effort to reach an agreement, conducting genuine and constructive negotiations and applying them in good faith. A collective agreement is between an employer or group of employers or representative agent, on the one hand, and one or more workers’ organisation on the other.

To the extent that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, empanelled the Emeritus Prof. Nimi Briggs committee to negotiate on its behalf with university-based Unions in Nigeria, the purpose of which is to create and agreement between the parties, that committee is the representative agent of government. Any resolution(s), reached by the parties, such as draft agreements, are then to be ratified by the authorised signatories on behalf of the parties to achieve a binding collective bargaining agreement.

ASUU, therefore, makes bold to say that the Minister of Labour and Employment has taken upon himself the role of unabashed protagonist in our ongoing dispute with the government of Nigeria for some inexplicable reasons. Dr. Ngige earlier told whoever cared to listen that he was not the employer of university academics and advised the union to march to the Ministry of Education. Nigerians may wish to know why he has suddenly turned around to constitute himself into an impediment to an amicable resolution of the ongoing crisis.

FUNDING OF PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

Comrades and compatriots, it has become the pastime of government officials to talk tough about billions and trillions of naira whenever the thorny issues of education and health sectors’ funding come up for mention. However, it is common knowledge that various sums of money in the same region which could have been deployed for human capacity development and public good usually develop into the thin air at the end of the day!

We are therefore not surprised the leadership of the Ministry of Labour and Employment could condescend to the point of denigrating the import of massive injection of fund into the University Education sub-sector as they tried to miserably dismiss the vexed issue of funding Nigerian public universities and uplifting the country’s intellectual capital. While government and its agents, would like to look at the issue in the ‘’here and now’’ and funding as a one-off matter, we prefer to look at it longitudinally.

ASUU believes that the idea of availability of funds is a dynamic process. For instance, government can mobilize funds from different sources including non-budgetary outlets like stamp-duty, GSM and alcoholic taxes.  These were parts of our recommendations at the National Workshop organised by the Federal government on sustainable funding of education in Nigeria, held between 27th and 28th November, 2018, at the Banquet Hall of the State House in Abuja.

At the workshop, MDAs were also challenged to remit, for the purpose of raising budgetary profile, excesses that accrue and not accounted for.  We insist that, until and unless these sources of ‘loose funds’ are pooled and appropriated in support of education funding, Nigerian Universities will not be positioned to compete globally as well as develop and attract local and foreign grants.

The Minister of Education admitted at the Inter-Ministerial Retreat in November 2017 that Nigeria was lagging behind less endowed African countries in terms of investment in education. In his words “None of the E9 or D8 countries allocates less than 20% of its annual budget to education”. In the last seven years of the outgoing government the country’s annual budgetary allocation have not gone beyond eight percent! Is this progress?

We are appalled by the recent calls by top government functionaries at both federal and state levels to establish more universities at a time agencies run by same Chief Executives are tightly squeezed for funding. The little that is available is thinly spread across many tertiary institutions with minimal impact.

Many heads of tertiary institutions in the country would not hesitate to confess that their universities polytechnics and colleges would have gone under but for the existence of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). We restate our opposition to the proliferation of universities and other tertiary institutions merely for political gains or electoral value. Nigerians should read through the intentions of hypocritic political jobbers when dangling the carrots of siting institutions they have no intention of developing to compete with others in Africa and beyond.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

ASUU appreciates some recent efforts by critical stakeholders across the broad spectrum of the Nigerian society to resolve the logjam and restore normalcy on our university campuses. The initiatives of the NLC and its affiliate unions are quite commendable. But it is not over until it is over! We also acknowledge the interest of political actors in various groups and platforms who have promised to wade in.

ASUU’s doors of engagements are wide open to all, but we remain unsympathetic to political party sentiments and blackmail irrespective of where such are coming. For a greater and better Nigeria, education is key. So, we remain focused on our goal of making the Nigerian University system internationally competitive and our getting our products to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers in any part of the world.

We appreciate the teeming Nigerians for identifying with our vision in this respect. We specifically acknowledge the support and sacrifices of our students (including our members who are running their postgraduate programmes) as well as their parents; they are our critical partners in this transformation project. We in ASUU shall do our utmost best not to let you down.

Compatriots of the Press, ASUU appreciates your concerns and sympathetic support. We are as bothered as you are because we share a common interest in the Nigeria project.

However, ASUU shall continue to be guided by the sacred canons of integrity, objectivity, and responsibility to which both academics and media practitioners subscribe.  It is our fervent hope and desire that the current groundswell of interests would culminate in a convergence of solutions to this avoidable crisis in the overall interest of Nigeria. Together, we shall win.

The struggle continues!

Thank you.

Emmanuel Osodeke

President

19th July, 2022

Strike Can Be Resolved In Two Days, Not Weeks – ASUU President Tells Buhari

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says the two-week ultimatum issued by the President to resolve the concerns raised by the union is too much.

For the lecturers, it will not take more than two days to address the issues that have plunged the nation’s public university system into a prolonged strike that is currently in its fifth month.

ASUU Chairman, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, stated this in Abuja when he appeared as a guest on Tuesday’s edition of Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“Two weeks is too long,” he said. “The issue of renegotiation has been completed by both sides. Just come back to us and say ‘we have agreed’, that will not take two days. We were told they spent billions to feed children in school; is that correct, how many children have you seen being fed?

“Nigerians spend not less than N200 billion as school fees paid to Ghanaian universities every year. Government should prioritise education as number one in the country because all of us must pass through the school.”

READ ALSO: Buhari Directs Education Minister To Proffer Solution To ASUU Strike In Two Weeks

Hours before Osodeke’s interview, President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and relevant members of his cabinet where he received briefings on the current face-off between the government and university unions, including ASUU.

At the meeting, he directed the education minister to proffer a solution to the continued industrial action by the lecturers and report back to him in two weeks.

President Buhari had also instructed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who were also present, to be in attendance in all the meetings to speedily resolve the crisis.

While the ASUU president sees the President’s action as a welcome development, he is of the opinion that giving such a directive is not new.

He believes the government is still unserious with the lingering strike by the university lecturers, stressing that it does not require such a long timeframe to resolve the issues.

Professor Osodeke recalled the intervention of religious leaders in the crisis under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) who met with the President over the matter.

Following the meeting in February, he explained that President Buhari set up a three-man committee comprising his Chief of Staff, Ngige, and Adamu, to quickly resolve the issue within one month.

“That committee didn’t invite us for a meeting until we rolled over the strike in May and we all went. Now another 12 days? If we are serious, if we really want to resolve this problem, it will not take two days.

“All issues have been discussed, government representatives have met with ASUU, and there is a draft joint agreement to look at and come back for the signature. Does it take you two weeks to look at what you have negotiated?” the ASUU president queried.

Buhari Directs Education Minister To Proffer Solution To ASUU Strike In Two Weeks

President Muhammadu Buhari presides over a meeting to resolve the prolonged strike by university lecturers in Abuja on July 19, 2022.

 

Following the prolonged industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to proffer a solution to the challenge and report back to him in two weeks.

Sources in the Presidential Villa said the President gave the directive on Tuesday during a meeting with relevant government Ministries, Agencies, and Departments (MDAs) where he received briefings on the current face-off with the university unions since February 14, among other issues.

Although it is not unusual for the President to hold briefings with the ministers, it was gathered that President Buhari placed a high premium on the issue of resolving the lingering ASUU strike.

This photo shows Chris Ngige, Zainab Ahmed, Ben Akabueze, Adamu Adamu, and Isa Pantami during the meeting with President Buhari on July 19, 2022.

 

Besides the directive to the education minister, the President instructed that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, must be in attendance in all the meetings to speedily resolve the crisis.

Those present at the meeting include Adamu, Ngige, and Mustapha, as well as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; the Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan; the Chairman of National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta; and the Director-General Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.

President Buhari’s directive comes a week after he told the striking university lecturers that ‘enough is enough’ and should as a matter of responsibility reconsider their position on the prolonged strike with a view to calling it off.

This photo taken on July 19, 2022, shows some ministers and heads of agencies at the meeting with President Buhari in Abuja.

 

ASUU commenced a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the government as the payment system in the university sector.

Members had also decried the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the inability of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers, among other issues.

Since the industrial action began, several negotiations between the union and the government have ended in deadlock.

Buhari ‘Should Urgently’ Approve N200bn For ASUU To End Strike – Falana

FILE: Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on November 18, 2021.

 

Human rights activist and senior lawyer, Femi Falana, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to submit a supplementary budget for the appropriation of the sum of N200 billion required to revamp federal universities across the country.

According to Mr Falana, this will go a long way in ending the months-long strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities that has paralysed public universities since February.

Mr Falana said President Buhari’s recent lament over the prolonged strike was unnecessary.

READ ALSO: Enough Is Enough, Buhari Tells ASUU

He also faulted the Federal Government’s claim that it does not have the funds to meet ASUU’s demands, noting that the government has allocated trillions to address issues such as fuel subsidy and agriculture policy.

 

ASUU’s demands

ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14.

On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another two months to allow the government meet all of its demands. A 12-week extension was announced on May 9.

Since May 9, the union has remained on strike, vowing to persist until its demands are met.

The academics are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion.

But the Federal Government has said it doesn’t have the money to pay such an amount, citing low oil prices during the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The agreement was reportedly struck in 2009.

Another is the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

The academics have proposed an alternative payroll system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

 

Read Mr Falana’s statement below:

TIME TO END ASUU STRIKE BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI

Four months ago, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced the current strike to compel the Federal Government to comply with the FG/ASSU Agreement on funding of all federal universities in Nigeria. According to the binding Agreement the total fund which the Federal Government ought to have provided to revamp the universities is N200 billion in line with its obligation under the Agreement. Before then, the warning strikes embarked upon by ASUU was ignored by the Federal Government. Thus, the ongoing industrial action which has paralysed the federal universities has lingered on due to the refusal of the Federal Government to meet its commitment under the FG/ASUU Agreement. However, in justifying the unwarranted breach of the Agreement the Federal Government has complained of lack of fund.

Instead of addressing the outstanding grey areas in the prolonged negotiations, President Muhammadu Buhari who is the Visitor to all federal universities in the country has urged the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to consider the long-term effect of the strike on students and the generational consequences on families, the educational system and the future development of the country. While lamenting that the strike was already taking a toll on the psychology of parents, students and other stakeholders, throwing up many moral issues that already beg for attention the President said that “We hope that ASUU will sympathise with the people on the prolonged strike. Truly, enough is enough for keeping students at home. Don’t hurt the next generation for goodness sake.”

The claim of the Federal Government that it lacks the financial resources to fund university education has been taken with a pinch of salt by the Nigerian people. Having regard to the way and manner huge public fund has been expended on other projects it does appear that the Federal Government has not prioritised higher education. For instance, the electricity sector and the counter insurgency operations in two regions in the country have consumed not less than N6 trillion without any tangible result. The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) claims that N5.4 trillion is owed by a section of the comparador bourgeoisie whose toxic debts were bought with public fund. Even though N443 billion was spent on the importation of fuel from January to June 2022 the National Assembly has approved N4 trillion for the same product from July to December 2022 due to the comatose status of the nation’s refineries. The Federal Government has also made available N100 billion for revamping the textile industry; N850 billion for rice production; N250 billion for autogas vehicle conversion and N228 for school feeding programme. Apart from its annual budget of N40 billion the Independent National Electoral Commission has received N100 billion as the first tranche of the 2022 budget to conduct the 2023 general elections.

A government that can afford to spend trillions of Naira on the aforesaid projects cannot afford to ignore the funding of higher education. Therefore, the federal government should adopt concrete measures to end the ASUU strike without any further delay. Instead of lamenting over the strike, President Buhari should urgently submit a Supplementary budget to the National Assembly for the appropriation of the sum of N200 billion required to revamp the federal universities. This demand is in accordance with the FG/ASUU Agreement whose terms are binding on the Federal Government. The National Assembly, concerned parents, progressive civil society bodies and other relevant stakeholders should prevail on President Buhari to do the needful with a view to ending the strike without any further delay.

Femi Falana SAN,
Interim Chair,
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)
July 12, 2022.

‘E No Dey Touch Una?’: Ahmed Musa Tackles Politicians Over ASUU Strike

Super Eagles striker, Ahmed Musa. Credit: @Ahmedmusa718
15 Oct 2018

 

Super Eagles striker Ahmed Musa has criticised politicians who celebrate sending their children abroad while universities remain shut due to academic strikes.

In a comment on his verified Instagram page, Musa asked noted that such politicians are running a system they don’t believe in.

“To our political office holders whose children school abroad. How do you feel visiting your children abroad, taking pictures in their schools and posting online while ASUU is on strike?” Musa wrote.

 

“Like seriously, how is it ok to you? You’re running a system that you don’t even believe in. Show me one Oyibo leader whose child is schooling in Nigeria.

“E no dey touch una? And when you return Nigerian youths will still gather and sing praises for una.”

His comments come after pictures surfaced online of the graduation of Governor Nyesom Wike’s son from a foreign university.

FG Continues Talks With ASUU As Strike Enters Fourth Month

A file photo of leaders of ASUU attending a reconciliatory meeting with the Federal Government in Abuja.

 

The Federal Government has continued its negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as the strike by the lecturers enters its fourth month.

A meeting between the striking lecturers and the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee, however, ended without a concrete agreement as members planned to reconvene within 24 hours to consider a draft agreement.

Talks between both parties were held on Monday at the Nigeria University Commission (NUC) in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A senior member of the union who attended the meeting told Channels Television that they reached some agreements with the Federal Government, but members had to break and reconvene within 24 hours to consider the new terms in the draft agreement.

The Federal Government set up the committee led by Professor Briggs on March 7 with a three-month mandate to renegotiate the 2009 ASUU/Federal Government agreement.

READ ALSO: Students Block Major Roads In Oyo, Edo, Ondo To Condemn Prolonged ASUU Strike

The government had tasked the committee to ensure the renegotiation brings an end to the ongoing industrial action by the university lecturers.

Three months after it was inaugurated, the committee met with the lecturers but also failed to reach a final agreement that could end the strike that has crippled academic activities across government-owned universities.

ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike on February 14 over the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as the payment system in the university sector.

Members also decried the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the inability of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers, among other issues.

Since the industrial action began, several negotiations between the union and the government have ended in deadlock – a situation that was condemned by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).