We Didn’t Fulfil Promises Made To ASUU, Education Minister Admits

Nigeria, Education, Adamu Adamu,, Minister Explains Ten Pillars Of Nigerian Education Reform
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu

The Minister of Education Adamu Adamu has admitted that the Federal Government failed to fulfil some of the promises made to the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

Adamu said this while speaking with State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council Meeting today, two days after ASUU declared an indefinite nationwide strike effectively grounding activities in most universities across the country.

In embarking on the strike, ASUU accused the government of failing to fully implement the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement and the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), among other things.

The minister, who described the ongoing strike as sad, did not defend the government against the allegation.

“I must confess that government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain. Though we are unhappy that ASUU went on this strike without following due process and giving us good notice, we realised that we promised something and we didn’t fulfil it,” he said.

Although Adamu regrets the failure of the government to fulfil the promises made to ASUU, he is hopeful that an agreement can be reached with the union later today when he meets their leaders.

“I hope I will be meeting them later today or tomorrow and I am sure we will be able to reach some agreement so that the strike will be called off as soon as possible,” he said.

“I am sure you are aware of the issues we agreed on. There is the issue of renegotiation which is the only one they agreed government has done what it promised because we set up the renegotiation team and negotiation is already ongoing.”

He explained that the government failed to resolve the issue of Earned Allowances because of some miscommunications but gave assurances to “ASUU and the whole nation” that the matter would be resolved.

Speaking further, the minister said, “There is the issue of registration for Nigerian Universities Pension Commission. I think on that one, there are a few issues that need to be sorted out with the Nigerian Pension Commission. I believe there will be no problem with that.

“On the issue of their staff school, I think the court has given them verdict to go ahead with it. They have requested that they should be allowed to stay off TSA and I think the government will not do this.”

OAU Lecturers Divided Over ASUU Strike, Faction Boycotts

OAU Lecturers Divided Over ASUU Strike, Faction BoycottsAs the 7-day warning strike declared by the national body of the Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) enters its second day, a faction of the lecturers at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun state have boycotted the nationwide strike.

Channels Television’s visit to the university revealed that students are currently having their first semester examination for the 2015/16 academics session under the supervision of the lecturers.

Speaking on the strike and their reason for not joining, the chairman of the Committee of Deans in OAU, Professor Adeagbo Amusan, said that the boycott was in the interest of the students, who had wasted so much time since the start of the session due to incessant strike.

“It’s a unanimous decision that much as we are aware of the directive of NEC, we would want our examinations to go on unhindered. We key into the national body of ASUU but we have some local issues to sort out here and we don’t want to externalize our internal affairs.

“We agreed on compassionate level having lost a lot of ground that we need to consider the plight of our students. Because we ought to have had this exams this time last year,” he said.

However, a factional chairman of ASUU, OAU chapter, Niyi Sunmonu claimed that the directive to embark on a warning strike was not communicated to his committee.

“The directive from the national ASUU was not directed to us, but as faithful ASUU members we still considered it at our congress. And the decision of the congress was that since we were not communicated officially, the referendum to go on strike or not was not before us”.

It was an entirely different position, when Channels TV spoke with another factional chairman of ASUU in the school, Dr Caleb Aborisade.

He said members were in compliance with the directive of the NEC, which he said is to fight for the good of Nigerian universities and the welfare of students.

“The greatest offence anybody can commit in ASUU is to break a strike which some people have decided to do.

“We resolved at our congress that we will not disturb anybody from holding exams, they go by their own conscience, and it’s by choice. For example, my own exams, there is no way it can be done, because I’m on strike,” he maintained.

In his reaction, the Public Relations Officer of the university, Abiodun Olarewaju maintained that the school did not comply with the directive because of the adverse effect it would have on its students and their academics.

“We are very much aware of the fact that ASUU has directed its members to go on strike, but in every situation there is always an exception. Ours is an exception because we have lost a lot of ground and we must recover it.

“Most of our colleagues in other universities are in their own second semester and we are at first semester. So, an overwhelming number of lecturers have agreed not to join the strike, because our students are writing their examinations and we want then to finish”.

Op-Ed: Quality Education, It’s Now The Students’ Fight

It’s the New Year and all Nigeria public universities have resumed full academic activities after a protracted strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that lasted for 5 months.

While the strike was on, many accused the union of selfishness – not having the interest of the university educational system at heart, being inconsiderate and at a time likened its stance and activities as wanting to subvert the government. After all the politics, name calling, threats, counter threats, negotiations and meetings, government, ASUU and the Labour Union reached an actionable understanding on the way forward and called of the strike.

The gains for our universities in developing infrastructure, improving research, capacity and delivery are enormous but I am in serious doubt of the average Nigerian student’s readiness to benefit from these gains in terms of getting real value for the new funding, and getting equipped for the next decade globally competitive knowledge driven economy. The signs are there, unfortunately, the National Association of Nigerian Universities (NANS) failed in its duty to articulate what should be the interest of the Nigerian students in the crisis and take a strong position that will benefit the students it claims to represent their interest.

As our universities reopen, we as students owe ourselves a duty to demand:

  • Our lecturers come to class when they should and teach what the curriculum provides;
  • We should be allowed to make maximum use of our laboratories, libraries and other academic resources provided for our learning;
  • An end to forceful purchase of handouts and textbooks – compilations that has no knowledge that benefits us or addresses Nigeria’s current socio-economic needs;
  • An end to all forms of abuse and harassment of students and the system;
  • Equitable and resourceful use of resources by the university management;

In this game it is the students – you and I that will always lose, we are the ones that will graduate ill-equipped for the labour market, we are the ones that will be unemployed for years, go back to school for our masters, and doctorate – lectured by same lecturers who are part of our problem. Worse of, we slave here, save for a costly US, UK – Europe, or Asia education, get ‘educated’ and come back, yet without a good job. It really pains. Let me remind us that our university lecturers have absolutely nothing to lose, they stand to benefit more. Haven’t they been paid their arrears while on strike? What were we paid for staying at home with our parents and losing 5months of our lives? If we do not take care we will be paid back with the same attitude of not teaching us, 19th and 20th Century information on 15 page handouts and copied text books that we will be forced to buy to pass exams we were taught nothing of what will be set in them.

An additional 200-220Billion annually to public universities for 6 years is a lot of money – since it hasn’t been coming, yet a stipend when compared to what our universities need to get to acceptable standards before it can compete globally. As students ourselves, we should shun all forms of indiscipline, malpractices and crimes that we are usually accused of and must be seen to have changed and ready to learn and benefit from this new process.

A stitch in time saves nine. A word is enough for the wise, let’s save our future.

Submission by Akachukwu Nnaemeka Okafor

Put Funds Into Good Use, Okupe Tells ASUU

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe has commended the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, for ending their 5 month old strike.

Okupe, in an interview with Channels Television in Abuja, saluted the patriotism of the university lecturers and their commitment to the development of education in the country.

“It’s very heartwarming news to hear that the long strike has been finally put aside. This is a great relief to government and to the students, parents and stakeholders generally.

“I want to assure that the agreement that has been signed or the agreement that has been reached will be fully discharged by this administration. I have said it before that this administration does not have any credibility issue whatsoever, and the President and his government will honour their word.”

He urged the lecturers to ensure that the fund provided by the government is used for the provision of infrastructure in the nation’s ivory towers. He said: “the monies provided have been painstakingly sought for and they should be applied to good use for the educational advancement of our institutions.”

Dr. Okupe had been a major feature in the saga between the union of Nigerian university lecturers and the Federal Government while the industrial action lasted.

He appeared on Channels Television a number of times to communicate the government’s stance at different points in the protracted negotiation.

ASUU Members Are Not Committed To Education Sector – Akin-Alabi

An Education Consultant, Bisi Akin-Alabi, on Wednesday, said that the 5 month long strike embarked upon by ASUU showed the members’ lack of commitment to the education sector, as no professional would leave the students unattended to no matter the situation.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mrs Akin-Alabi said the responsibility of an educator is to provide equitable and sustainable education and the use of strike as a tool to ensure demands are met is unprofessional.

She cited an example of the educational sector in the United Kingdom where she had been working for over 20 years and said lecturers in the UK don’t strike, “we picket” she added.

According to her, when picketing, some groups of lecturers continue teaching in the classrooms while others take turns protesting using placards.

“The problem we have in Nigeria is that, most of us in the education sector got there because we couldn’t make our first choice ambition in other fields (then we find our ways into the classroom), whereas in the developed parts of the world, people that are in education would absolutely die for it.”

She stressed that 5 months wasted as a result of the strike is ‘unthinkable.’

“Both the government and the ASUU need to wake up to the cost of 5 months strike.”

She expressed disappointment in the federal government for allowing the situation drag for so long

“It’s appalling to know that we have a democratically elected government and they fold their arms and allow this to go on for five months.”

According to the life coach, the inability of both parties to reach an agreement in good time led to ‘drama’ which ultimately caused the death of Professor Festus Iyayi.

Mrs Akin-Alabi also said she had expected more from President Goodluck Jonathan who was once a university don.

Responding to criticisms against ASUU for refusing to give Mr. President the benefit of the doubt, Akin-Alabi said it has become a norm for the government to renege on promises.

“Over and over again, our leaders go back on their words. Our leaders don’t have the integrity.”

Mrs Akin-Alabi concluded that two wrongs don’t make a right and the ideal thing would have been for ASUU to continue meeting the students ‘behind closed doors.’

“That’s what a professional does,” she said.

FG vs. ASUU: Presidency Presents Evidence Of Payment

The Presidency has produced evidence of payment of 200 billion Naira for universities infrastructure revitalisation.

At a media briefing in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President On Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, presented a letter from the Central Bank of Nigeria, confirming that a sum of 200 billion Naira, agreed with the Academic Staff Union Of Universities at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 4, 2013, has been fully paid into a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure account.

In the letter, signed by the Deputy Governor of the CBN, Mr Tunde Lemo and addressed to the Accountant General of the Federation, the apex bank confirmed that the total sum was paid in three tranches of 129.3 billion Naira, 20.7 billion Naira and 50 billion Naira, into the account as directed.

The presidential aide added that “the Federal Government does not intend to victimize anyone who participates in a legitimate strike action in view of the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation convention which guarantees workers’ rights to strikes convened in line with due processes.”

The impasse between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities reached a crescendo in the past week with ASUU  expressing lack of confidence in the government in keeping the agreements it reached with the Presidency on its issues and had requested for evidences of the Government’s financial commitment to the ASUU course.

In a statement by the ASUU President, Dr Nasir Issa-Fagge, while appearing on Channels Television on Tuesday, December 3, the union stated that once the bank account opening was done and the committee that would disburse the funds start working, “our members will have no reason not to suspend the strike” insisting that the “most important part of this thing at this point is that let there be documentation”.

He said the union insisted on documentation to ensure that it would not embark on another industrial action, as a result of the government not meeting the requirement, particularly the promises by the President.

“Why won’t government make available this money so that we know the money is there and the universities commence drawing from this money to address the problem of decay in infrastructure, teaching and research facilities? When that is done, our members will suspend the strike,” he promised.

The Presidency is expected to maintain its earlier stance that “from the government’s perspective, everything that needs to be done has been done and whether the strike would be called off or not now lies in the hands of the leadership of ASUU”.

ASUU Divided As ‘Back To Class’ Ultimatum Elapses

The deadline of the Nigerian government’s ‘Back to Class’ ultimatum to striking university lecturers elapsed on Tuesday, with some universities divided over the resumption order.

The university lecturers have been ordered to go back to class on December 10 or face the possibility of being sacked.

But the ultimatum has generated division amongst the universities, with contradicting statements coming from different universities. Most universities were deviant while few were compliant, a development that had generated questions about the unity of the union.

The lecturers had insisted that the government should tender evidence that it had deposited the revitalisation fund into the CBN account.

Members of the union in the University of Benin in Edo State, south-south Nigeria, did not resume academic activities on Tuesday as directed by the Nigerian government.

The University’s ASUU Chairman, Mr. Anthony Monye-Emina, said that the Union would continue with the strike until the Federal Government met their demands and engaged them in further dialogues.

At the University of Benin, Ugbowo Campus, students were in school with the hope that the Federal Government’s directive would bring lecturers back to classrooms.

In Jos, lecturers at university of Jos in Plateau State defied the government’s order.

However, the university’s Governing Council, through a directive signed by the registrar, Jilli Dandam, directed all academic staff of the university to return to their various departments, units and directorates and commence work. A daily compliance register is to be kept by all heads of department.

It was also a defiant response at the Bayero University in Kano, Kano Sate, as members of the union also disregarded the Federal Government’s directive.

In compliance, the Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Imo State (FUTO) resumed academic activities and fixed December 16 for semester examination.

The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Chigozie Asiabaka, told Channels correspondent that close to 80 per cent of the lecturers had signed in the school register and students were in their revision week ahead of their exams next week.

On Tuesday, the Nigerian government presented an evidence of payment for the 200 billion Naira it had agreed to pay into a Central Bank of Nigeria’s special account for the revitalisation of the universities.

With the development, it is expected that the five months old strike would be called off, as the university lecturers had said they would call off the strike as soon as the government fulfilled the agreement.

 

ASUU Has Leadership Problem – Sogolo

Public Affairs Analyst, Godwin Sogolo has added his voice to that of those who are saying that the ongoing strike by Nigeria’s university lecturers should have been since called off.

He spoke from the Abuja studio of Channels Television while appearing as a guest on Friday’s edition of breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’.

Recalling the issues that led to the extension of the strike and the alleged fresh demands made by the ASUU executives, he said that all that needed to be done has been done, especially by the Federal Government in providing the demanded 200 billion Naira universities revitalisation fund.

The Professor of Philosophy, defended the earlier ultimatum issued by the Federal Government, referring to it as a call to duty rather than an ultimatum. He added that no government would watch its universities closed for 5 months without taking action.

He agreed that the development was unfortunate to have come to the point where the government had to put a threat across, but he said this situation is not peculiar to Nigeria. He believed the ASUU negotiations with the government degenerated because there was a lapse “and I believe it is a leadership problem within ASUU.”

Sogolo however expressed optimism that the strike would be called off very soon.

ASUU: University Don Says Lecturers’ Children Suffer Too

A Professor of Counselling and Psychology at the University of Lagos, Ngozi Osarenren, on Thursday said ASUU’s insistence on getting its demands met is not out of a callous desire to keep students away from school as their own children are enrolled in the same schools, and are victims of the strike.

“ASUU members are not barren. They have children staying at home too,” she said.

Speaking on Sunrise Daily, she said the struggle for a better education sector is not for the personal gratification of the members and association. She said “no ASUU member is sharing from the money it is demanding.

“It’s for the revitalization of the education sector and it’s very painful that people who ought to know are shamelessly playing the ostrich, pretending not to know,” she said.

The former commissioner for education in Edo state disclosed that the association had sent a letter to the Federal Government on the 22nd of November but until December 5th, there has been no reply.

“How come the government cannot communicate to ASUU since then? The government has not sent any reply to ASUU. We are only hearing this in the media.”

She stated that they have been labelled militants and described as subversive but “we are not asking for salary increase. No ASUU member is sharing from the 200 billion naira.”

She stressed the fact that no Nigerian university ranks among first 10 in Africa despite the title “Giant of Africa” which the nation lays claim to.

She accused the government of regarding ASUU members as non-serious people who are not to be reckoned with, adding that what they sent to the government was leaked to the press.

Despite the Federal Government’s disclosure that it has created an account in the CBN for ASUU, Mrs Osanrenren stated that they have only seen it in the media and that the government is yet to reply ASUU’s letter.

Speaking about those who have resumed in UNILAG, she said people who have other reasons may have resumed but insisted that there are no factions in the school.

“The press is making the faction issue in UNILAG to thrive. If you are not on strike, it does not mean that there is a faction,” she said.

Asked when ASUU will call off the strike, she said, “once we get official document to show that these things have been done, ASUU will call off the strike.”

ASUU’s Postures Are Unintellectual – UNILAG Lecturer

A Senior Lecturer, Department of English, University of Lagos, Dr. Adeyemi Daramola, has discredited claims in the media that lecturers in the institution have resumed work against directives of the ASUU.

While appearing on the breakfast show, ‘Sunrise Daily’, he said “May I correct that impression, and I will be glad if Channels Television would take it today that we really don’t have a faction at the University of Lagos, what we have is a group of young intellectuals; young in the sense that (they believe) we (ASUU) are not pragmatic enough, (and) who have alternative positions about all the matters that concern ASUU.”

Daramola, who also confirmed being one of the leaders of the said group with alternative views, stated that since the commencement of the strike on July 1, there was no meeting of ASUU held in the school that he did not attend. “I have said it crystal clear that please publicize our position, we’re not fighting for ourselves, we are fighting for the nation. So there was this lack of communication between members of ASUU, University of Lagos branch and the national executive.

“You won’t believe it that it is because some of us (the group) planned to hold a meeting on Monday, 2 weeks ago that ASUU UNILAG branch woke up and started calling meetings almost every day. The alternative point of view is that “ASUU is not communicating; ASUU has assumed – and they don’t like to hear this, what I call an oracular position.”

“The ASUU problem is a kind of product from a linguistic perspective that I belong, and there’s what you call a process; the two have to go together.”

“I am not a government spokesperson….We actually need to revitalize the university system but ASUU is not going about it properly. Look at it, ASUU are intellectuals but to me their postures are unintellectual in many ways.

He cited the request made to ASUU by the government and Nigerians that ASUU should think and provide an alternative to strike as an example, berating ASUU as intellectuals for having not called series of meetings to address that challenge.

“You won’t believe it; I’ve got two ideas about a university system whereby there will be no strike.”

Sharing his ideas, he suggested the setting up of a pressure group made up of eminent Nigerians like the Sultan of Sokoto, the Oba of Benin, Alafin of Oyo and other Nigerians who have made their mark in governance, military and the private sector to engage the government in negotiations on behalf of the Union rather than going on strike.

Speaking passionately, Daramola also berated the university administration for running a system whereby students are not aware of what the lecturer bodies are doing, stating that student representatives should be part of every organization within their universities.

He argued that if truly the students are well trained and the lecturers are truly doing their jobs, they should be able to liaise with students, and “if they believe in what we are doing, if we are really fighting for them, why can’t they be made to go to the National Assembly – students that are properly organized?”

He said that giving the students academic instructions is insufficient if they don’t train them for leadership. “Many universities in Nigeria don’t have Student Union, it’s very sad. We aren’t giving good leadership to students; not in terms of products but in terms of process.”

He expressed sadness over ASUU’s quietness on the continuous complaints from the students and public about lecturers selling hand-outs and giving marks for money, “only to have strong muscles to fight the government. So they aren’t purposeful in their leadership”.

ASUU Strike: Make Evidence Of Claimed Payment Public, Lawyer Tells Government

Mr. Victor Odunaiya, Lawyer and Public Affairs Analyst.The Nigerian government has been asked to make the evidence of the 200 billion Naira it claims to have paid into a Central Bank Account, as agreed with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), public.

The call came a day after a government spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said that the Federal Government had deposited the money as agreed with the union into a CBN Account.

But a public affairs analyst, Mr. Victor Odunaiya, described the statement as a strategy by the government to find justification for its actions, insisting that an evidence is needed.

“The government has not complied with the agreement and it is insincerity on their part,” he told Channels Television on Wednesday’s edition of Sunrise Daily.

Mr. Odunaiya, who is also a lawyer, urged the government to justify its claims by sending a copy of the evidence of payment to the leadership of the union.

“The government says it has made payment but ASUU is not notified. If they were notified then they would not be justified for continuing the strike.

‘Political Language’

“What is wrong with Okupe bringing a copy of the payment and handing it over to the union or what is wrong with the CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi , calling the leadership of the union to confirm payment?” he questioned.

The lawyer described as ‘political language’ Okupe’s statement that the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the union was enough for ASUU to have called off the strike, as it showed the government’s commitment to resolving the issue.

He pointed out that since 2009, the Federal Government had not deemed it feat to meet their obligations towards the union.

“How do you expect them to accept oral speech or comments?” he also questioned.

He supported the view that an agreement should be enforceable among the parties that reached the agreement and must carry in it clauses that would ensure its enforcement.

Mr. Odunaiya called on both the government and the union to reconsider their positions as the parents and students were bearing the burden of the effect of the combat.

ASUU Strike: Fresh Demands Do Not Make Sense – Okupe

The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, has stated that there is no reason for the ongoing industrial action by Nigerian university lecturers to continue.

He was guest on Channels Television flagship breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise Daily’ to discuss the issues.

Okupe said that from the Government’s perspective, everything that needs to be done has been done and whether the strike would be called off or not now lies in the hands of the leadership of ASUU.

He said that most of the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, ASUU, have been agreed upon at the 13-hour meeting they had with the President in October.

“At the end of that meeting, the Government proposed that everything that has been agreed should be put in a memorandum of agreement and that the two parties should sign, but the leadership of ASUU declined and said instead of that, they would rather have a letter of comfort expressing everything that has been resolved therein, and that will suffice for them.”

According to him, the Government agreed to their request and issued the said letter based on the agreement that the strike would be called off within 7 days. However, this did not happen “in spite of the fact that the ASUU leadership presented the letter of comfort to its chapters nationwide and a clear majority of them endorsed the resolutions reached and actually were more inclined towards calling off the strike.”

Dr Okupe stressed that the attitude of the ASUU leadership showed that the seed of discord and evidence of bad faith already existed.  “It is unfortunate that somebody died but notwithstanding, that cannot be a justification for delaying the implementation of an agreement for 21 or more days.

Reading from the ‘Letter of Comfort’ issued by the Federal Government in agreement with the leadership of ASUU, the government agreed that Nigerian universities must be revitalized for effective service delivery, all the provisions in the agreement and MoU for the revitalization shall be fully implemented as captured in the 2012 Needs Assessment and the Federal Government shall mobilize resource towards this goal.

“Based on this, it was also agreed that a sum of N1.3 trillion shall be made available to ASUU over the next 6 years starting from December 2013 with (the sum of) N200 billion. The FGN therefore request that the ASUU shall within 7 days call off its 4 month strike.”

Contrary to the Federal Government’s expectation that ASUU would call off the strike, ASUU in another document said that they “could not call off the strike because of certain uncertainties or gaps that are evident in the government’s report.”

Okupe asked fiercely, “what are these uncertainties? He accused ASUU of turning around to again state four new conditions for the strike to be called off. They demanded that the agreed N200 billion should be deposited in an account at the Central Bank within 2 weeks, while the negotiation of the 2009 agreement should be included in the final document.

The ASUU, according to Okupe also demanded that a non-victimization clause should be included as well as a new MoU signed by the Attorney-General.

Dismissing their requests, he said a demand for a memorandum is a waste of people’s time because this is ideally what should follow any agreement made between two parties in the first place, and that by International Labour Laws which Nigeria is guided by, no one is expected to be victimized for going on strike.

He also said that ASUU, asking that the MoU with Federal Government should be signed by the Attorney-General “does not make sense” because anyone of high standing in Government can sign for it. He added that an account has already been opened for the N200 billion they are requesting for in the Central Bank.

Okupe added that the government has shown commitment by meeting with the leadership of ASUU, and agreeing to its demands, considering that previous governments did not give them such an opportunity to sit down and discuss. He called on ASUU to do the right thing for the benefit of the nation.

“The Government cannot be seen to be contesting with any sector of the economy or the country. This President is interested in moving Nigeria forward through a very well-articulated transformation agenda.”