Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have threatened to embark on another industrial action following a three-week ultimatum issued by the union last month.
They, however, called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to honour the agreement reached with the union.
The lecturers made the call on Friday at separate briefings held in the northern and southern parts of the country where they said the government’s action has left them with no other option than to withdraw their services.
At the end of a meeting of the Ibadan Zone of ASUU held at the University of Ilorin, the zonal coordinator, Professor Oyebamiji Oyegoke, said the union has been pushed to the wall over the non-implementation of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) reached with the government in 2020.
He explained that the union was planning another strike because of the failure to fully implement the MoA.
“Government, by its piecemeal implementation of the contentious issues in the MoA of 2020, is not sincere in fulfilling its part of the agreement,” said the don. “Selective treatment of issues in dispute instead of a comprehensive approach will no longer be acceptable to our members; we shall no longer take the issue of welfare of our members for granted.
“Any treatment of MoA of 2020 that precludes its full implementation and rejection of IPPIS will be incomplete. If it has taken ASUU’s position of resuming a suspended strike action to rouse the government from its sleep of non-implementation of the MoA of 2020, one needs to ask, how many of such reminders should ASUU give before its demands are met?
“It is on the basis of the failure of government to meet up with the promises made as attested to in the MoA of 2020 that the union is calling on Nigerians to intervene at this critical moment. The demands of the union are realistic and holistic in the common interest of the country’s educational and developmental pursuits. If nothing is done, we will be left with no other choice than to withdraw our services until reason prevails.”
An Inalienable Right
Professor Oyegoke stated that the agreement was supposed to address the issues of revitalisation of public universities, full payment of the academic earned allowance, withheld salaries and promotion arrears, inconsistencies in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) payment, and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
He accused the government of demonstrating an intention to embarrass the collective resolve to save university education from total collapse.
“ASUU cannot succumb to this insensitive disposition,” the lecturer stated. “As we celebrate Human Rights Day today, 10th December, we recall the declaration of 1948 which acknowledged the struggles of the oppressed people around the world.
“So, we use this opportunity to ask the Nigerian government to respect the rights of the people to education and decent working conditions.”
The Ibadan zone comprises the University of Ibadan, University of Ilorin, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osun State University, and Kwara State University.
A similar briefing was held by members of the Yola Zone of the union at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the Adamawa State capital.
The zonal coordinator, Dr. Reuben Jonathan, also appealed to Nigerians to add their voices by calling on the government to implement the MoA of 2020.
He asked them to hold the government responsible should the union embark on another strike, stressing the need for traditional and religious leaders among others to intervene so as to avert a looming strike.
“Though education is an inalienable right of every Nigerian child, we are aware that due to the flagrant neglect and frustration of Nigerian public universities, government functionaries are deliberately denying the poor Nigerian children access to university education as their children are secured in private universities all over the world.
“We, therefore, call on the general public and concerned citizens to save public universities by compelling the government to honour its agreements,” said Jonathan.