Posted by News Express | 10 September 2021 | 1,011 times
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday lashed out at the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for breaching the agreement it reached with the union in December 2020, which made the body to suspend its strike conditionally about nine months ago.
The union also asked Nigerians to hold President Buhari responsible should the educational system be engulfed in another strike crisis, based on the perceived irresponsibility on the part of the Federal Government, for addressing two out of eight issues within the past nine months.
The Ibadan Zone of the union made this known during a press conference, addressed by the zonal coordinator, Prof Oyebamiji Oyegoke, at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso on Thursday.
The press conference was also graces by chairpersons of union in the University of Ibadan, Prof Ayo Akinwole; University of Ilorin, Prof Moyosore Ajao; LAUTECH, Dr. Biodun Olaniran; and Kwara State University, Dr Shehu Salau.
The union stated that only salary shortfall and setting up of visitation panels to Federal Government owned universities have been addressed by government, 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 (MoA) have not been addressed.
Oyegoke explained that the claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that the money allocated for revitalization of public universities had been paid as contained in the MoA of 2020 cannot be true. The same Minister, according to him, confirmed on August 2, 2021 that the money was 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.
The union noted that the fact that the government said it has been working hard to facilitate the release of the money by the CBN, since January 2021 leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
On IPPIS versus UTAS, the Ibadan Zone of ASUU 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.
Oyegoke states: “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.
“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.
“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. When this happens, Nigerians should hold the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible,” he added.
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