Strike Fears Loom As ASUU Executives Meet In Lagos

ASUU, JAMB Act, amendment
ASUU logo.

 

Students, parents, and other stakeholders are waiting in anticipation as the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) meets in Lagos.

The union is expected to decide on whether to go on strike over grievances with the Federal Government’s handling of a 2009 agreement reached with the body.

The lecturers, who have been in the meeting at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) since Saturday, will hold a press conference on Monday where they will make their decision known.

ASUU’s latest meeting is the culmination of the positions of each branch of the union on whether the body will go on a strike or not. Prior to the NEC meeting, ASUU had gone on sensitisation tours and public engagements at the various branches leading to the declarations of lecture-free periods across many campuses.

Earlier, the union said the 2009 agreement ought to be reviewed every three years. It, however, said that after the renegotiated agreement, the Federal Government has failed to sign and implement the contents of the reviewed deal.

Aside from this, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) in lieu of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) is also a bone of contention between the government and lecturers. ASUU claims that IPPIS is marred with irregularities and some of its members do not get their full entitlements.

It is also calling for the regulation of the proliferation of state-owned universities, alleging that some of them owe salaries and payment of subventions. In November 2021, the lecturers had issued a three-week ultimatum to the government over its inability to meet their demands.

SSANU, NASU Reject UTAS, Propose Separate Payment Platform, Says Ngige

The Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) have kicked against the payment system proposed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

ASUU had asked the Federal Government to adopt the University Transparency Account System (UTAS), rather than the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), for the payment of lecturers’ salaries and allowances.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, disclosed the position of NASU and SSANU to reporters on Thursday at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“There are other unions in the university system that are saying they will develop their own system, and that they are not going to go on to UTAS – Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), … ASUU is not the only union in the university,” he told journalists after defending the budget of his ministry in the Senate.

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

 

Ngige stated that the government was making effort to meet up with ASUU’s demands but warned against the use of different payment platforms in Nigerian universities.

He stressed that it was important for the government to ensure that the concerns of SSANU, NASU, NAAT, and others were addressed while working to ensure the return of the lecturers to the classroom.

The minister, however, hinted that the payment system proposed by ASUU had been forwarded to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for assessment.

He said, “If we ignore those people and what they are saying, even if ASUU calls off the strike, they will close the lecture halls, they will close the laboratories, they will close even the gates.

“It has happened before, entry gates into the universities; we don’t want that to happen. That is why we are taking them holistically and going in measure steps to be sure that we carry everybody along.”

ASUU has been on strike for nearly seven months and one of the union’s demands is to have its own payment system separate from the government’s IPPIS.

Several meetings between the union and the government have ended without a definite conclusion, raising concerns on the part of students who have been out of the classroom since March.

IPPIS: ASUU Accuses FG Of Manipulation, Playing A Game Of Deception

ASUU National President, Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi, speaks during his appearance on Sunrise Daily on November 9, 2020.

 

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the Federal Government of manipulation as both parties fail to reach a compromise over the lingering industrial action by the lecturers.

ASUU National President, Professor Abiodun Ogunyemi, who was a guest on Sunrise Daily on Monday also blamed the government for the inability of union members to return to class since March.

While both parties are at loggerheads over the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), he insisted that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) was the way to go for the lecturers.

Professor Ogunyemi noted that while progress was being made, the government has insisted that there was a transition period within which ASUU members would first be captured in the IPPIS before migrating to UTAS.

Game Of Deception?

He, however, accused the government of playing a game of deception, saying it has failed to show commitment to resolving the impasse.

“What we need is a commitment; there is nothing like transition and what we are saying, in essence, is that government should just go ahead and pay what government has withheld – the salaries of our members; people have not been paid for eight or nine months on account of not registering on IPPIS,” the ASUU president said on the Channels Television breakfast show.

He added, “Government should stop this arm-twisting and manipulation, going back to universities to ask them to go and enroll in IPPIS so that they will go and migrate to UTAS; people see it as a game of deception and we cannot trust them.”

According to Professor Ogunyemi, it is not the place of the union to tell the government where to get the fund to address its challenges.

He stressed the need for the government to show more commitment to the ongoing negotiations in order to ensure lecturers and students return to the classroom.

 

The ASUU president also highlighted some of the vital roles the union has played in ensuring public universities do not become a history in the country.

He stated that if not for the union’s effort, the fate of public universities in Nigeria would have been just like that of the primary and secondary schools.

“Each time people talk about this problem has been there for long, they don’t also appreciate the solution we have brought to the system to keep the system going.

“But for ASUU’s intervention, we would no longer have public universities today. Do we still have public primary schools? Do we still have public secondary schools? That is what will happen to public universities,” Professor Ogunyemi said.

The government, on its part, has since insisted that it was working hard to ensure the students return to class and address the various challenges in the nation’s education sector.