The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday, asked Nigerians to hold the President Muhammadu Buhari administration responsible should the educational system at the ivory towers be engulfed in another crisis based on the alleged irresponsibility on the part of the federal government.
ASUU, which came down hard on the administration for allegedly breaching the agreement it reached with the union nine months after it conditionally suspended its strike in December 2020, said another strike by members of the union was imminent and a time-bomb,following the refusal of the federal government to honour the Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed with it.
The Coordinator, Ibadan Zone of the union, Prof. Oyebamiji Oyegoke, while addressing journalists, Thursday, alongside Chairpersons of UI (Prof. Ayo Akinwole), UNILORIN (Prof. Moyosore Ajao), LAUTECH (Dr. Biodun Olaniran) and KWASU (Dr. Shehu Salau), at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, asked Nigerians to hold the President responsible should the educational system at the ivory towers be engulfed in another crisis based on the irresponsibility on the part of the federal government.
According to him, only salary shortfall and setting up of visitation panels to federal government-owned universities had been addressed while renegotiation of conditions of service, injection of revitalisation funds, payment of earned academic allowances, implementation of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), proliferation of state universities, release of withheld salaries and non remittance of check-off dues of unions, which were all contained in the December 22, 2020 Memorandum of Action have not been addressed.
Oyegoke, while elaborating on each case, said, “The claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment that the money allocated for Revitalisation of Public Universities had been paid as contained in the MoA of 2020 cannot be true. The same Minister confirmed on 02 August 2021, that the money is still in the custody of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), only awaiting application by the Minister of Education for eventual transfer to the NEEDS Assessment Fund Account. That Government is working hard to facilitate the release of money by the CBN since January 2021 leaves a sour taste in the mouth”
On IPPIS versus UTAS, the Ibadan Zone ASUU boss explained that withholding salaries for months, non-release of EAA, non-payment of Check-off dues accruing to the union, despite what ASUU has demonstrated could only be an invitation to another possible cycle of industrial crisis.
“Moreover, UTAS avowed suitability has been demonstrated admirably to the Minister of Education and members of his team, the Honourable Senate President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, and other key stakeholders like Ministries of Labour and Employment; Education, Finance, Office of the Accountant-General, representatives of Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
“The more the government insists on fulfilling the demands of integrity test on UTAS, the longer will be the accompanying pains earlier identified in IPPIS will stay our members,” he said.
ASUU described as blantant, denials by the Minister of Labour and employment, Chris Ngige over the failure of government to meet the August 2, 2021, concerning the implementation of all outstanding issues.
“At a reconciliation meeting between the federal government of Nigeria and the leadership of our Union on Monday 02 August 2021, at the Conference room of the Minister of Labour and Employment, where all the contentious matters affecting the outstanding issues regarding the implementation of the 2020 FGN/ASUU MoA were discussed, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on behalf of the FGN promised that a broader government team and the inter-ministerial committee on the draft renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement would conclude its work and submit the report to government by the end of August, 2021.
“The meeting concluded with an agreement to reconvene by the end of August 2021 to ascertain the faithfulness of the FGN in resolving the outstanding issues. We are in the second week of September 2021, nothing positive from the FGN except blatant denials by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and the Minister of State for Labour and Employment.”
He maintained that rather than find ways towards the resolution of the crises, the federal government has insisted on inflicting more hardship on ASUU members and by extension on all Nigerians.
“The persistent non-responsiveness of the FGN to the contentious and outstanding issues of the December 2020 FGN/ASUU MoA has created a ticking time bomb, which may explode and engulf the Nigerian university system at a time sooner than may be imagined.