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.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its over five months old strike.
ASUU Chairman, University of Lagos Chapter, Dr. Karo Ogbinaka told Channels Television that the union decided to suspend the strike after a marathon meeting held in Minna, Niger State capital on Monday.
In attendance at the meeting, which ran till late in the evening, were all the ASUU branch chairmen and secretaries, the national executive members of the body, coordinators and past leaders, including 56 members from 52 universities.
Dr. Ogbinaka said that, in line with procedures, the different chapters of ASUU would hold congress meetings on Wednesday to inform members and managements of the institutions of the latest development.
“We expect the students to resume and expect their members to go back to class immediately after the congress meeting and we expect the government to keep to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),” Dr. Ogninaka stated.
He said that the union and the government would hold meetings in 2014 to look at gray areas that may arise and come to a common ground.
The Federal Government and ASUU had reached a compromise during a negotiation brokered by the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwaheed Omar on Wednesday, December 11, which led to the signing of the MoU.
Speaking to journalists after the agreement with the government on Wednesday, the National President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, said that the union would consult with its National Executive Council and would intimate Nigerians of its decision on the strike within one week, expressing optimism that the outcome of the consultation would be positive.
It was gathered that the MoU addressed all the resolutions that the leadership of the ASUU and the Federal Government agreed to in their 13-hour meeting with President Jonathan on November 4, as well as their widely criticised fresh demands.
ASUU’s demands include the upward review of the retirement age for professors from 65 to 70; adequate funding to revitalise the university system; progressive increase of budgetary allocations to the education sector by 26%; transfer of Federal Government property to universities; setting up of research and development units by the companies; and renegotiation of the signed agreement.
The fresh demands include a non-victimisation clause, provision and deposit of N200 billion infrastructure revitalisation funds in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) details of disbursement of the funds and payment of salary arrears which has accrued to the teachers during the strike.
The Wednesday agreement between the two which is reportedly due for renegotiation in 2014 was reached barely 24 hours after the Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe presented a proof of payment of N200 billion into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s university lecturers have been on strike since July 1, 2013 to demand full implementation of the 2009 agreement it reached with the Federal Government on conditions of service for university lecturers, and funding of infrastructural development in Nigerian universities.
Earlier video of a telephone conversation with the Chairman of ASUU Chapter of the University of Lagos.
As the ASUU strike rages on, some students have resorted to manual labour in order to keep themselves gainfully occupied pending the time the Federal Government and the association reach an agreement.
Some students of university of Jos took up jobs to earn some income by working with a construction company, involved in constructing the students’ hostel, within the school premises.
Recently, the National President of ASUU, Nassir Faggae, said that the Federal Government’s committee led by Governor Suswam is unwilling to implement the recommendations of the Needs Assessment Report, adding that the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku contradicted himself by stating that the Federal Government cannot afford ASUU’s allowance despite the fact that the economy of the nation has improved.
None the less, the UniJOS students, Blessing Orji, Emmanuel Abel and Mark Aleyinle, told Channels Television that rather than become additional burden to their parents by staying at home or roam the streets, they would rather take advantage of the ongoing industrial action by ASUU to earn a living while the campuses are under lock and key.
The federal government and ASUU are yet to come to terms as the education body has said that it wouldn’t budge in its demands.
During an interview on Sunrise Daily, Faggae said “we are not interested in negotiating the 2009 agreement yet. What we are interested in doing is getting the 2009 agreement implemented first and then we can commence the process of review.”