The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said its members in universities across the country will embark on another strike soon if the Federal Government fails to implement the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union last year.
The Chairman of ASUU in the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Dr Biodun Olaniran, and Secretary, Dr Toyin Abegunrin, who said this in a statement issued after the congress of the union held on Monday, stressed that the failure of the government to fully implement the agreements was worrisome.
The union said it had resolved to embark on an indefinite strike if the Federal Government fails to accede to its demands within a certain period of time.
It said members had resolved to embark on an indefinite strike since the government was not ready to do the needful.
While asking Nigerians to prevail on the government to avert the impending strike, the union said it had allowed many stakeholders to talk to the government, which had portrayed the union as a dog, which could only bark but could not bite.
The statement read in part, “Our union, ASUU, is using this medium to call upon the Federal Government of Nigeria once again to implement the agreement it signed with ASUU. It is unfortunate to mention that the FG signed an agreement with the ASUU since 2009, but the agreement is not implemented till date.
“The agreement was renegotiated in the name of peace. But to our dismay, the government has refused to sign the renegotiated agreement. In order to make the implementation of the agreement easy for the FG, the union has limited its demand to only three.
“These include the signing/implementation of the renegotiated agreement of 2009; and the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Software instead of the controversial IPPIS.”
Similarly, the Chairman, ASUU, Kwara State University, Malete, Dr Salau Sheu, said that the Federal Government was trying to dodge its responsibility by directing ministers to oversee the implementation of the MoA.
He said, “It is wrong for President Muhammadu Buhari to assign two ministers to oversee the implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed last year with ASUU. First, the assigned ministers are not part of the agreement. Only the ministers of Finance and Education were part of the agreement. The Federal Government is trying to take away university autonomy through its designed programmes and it is trying to shy away from implementing the resolutions of the negotiations.
“ASUU is having its National Executive Council meeting at the University of Lagos on February 12 and 13. If nothing is done by the government between now and then, the lecturers may go on strike.”
However, the Chairman of the University of Ilorin branch of ASUU, Prof Moyosore Ajao, said the branch would observe the work-free day today (Tuesday.)
Members of the University of Abuja chapter of the union are set to meet on Wednesday over the proposed industrial action.
The Chairman of the union, Dr Kasim Umaru, disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday.
Umaru explained that members of ASUU in the chapter would meet on Wednesday and come up with resolutions.
“We are meeting this week, precisely on Wednesday, and we are going to make our own resolutions. The government has failed to honour our demands times without numbers. The plan is to hold our congress on Wednesday, make our own decision and transmit it to the national body,” he stated.
Meanwhile, a member of the ASUU National Executive Council, who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity, stated that the union would have no choice but to embark on another strike.
“At this point, we have no choice but to go on strike; that is the only language the government understands. We have been going back and forth, but it seems as if they are not ready to listen and do what is right,” the NEC member said.
FG should honour NIREC’s intervention – ASUU
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Oshodeke, asked the Federal Government to honour the intervention of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in the crisis.
He said the union did not trust the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Oshodeke explained that the union decided to embark on mobilisation across the universities so as to intimate students and lecturers on its demands and possible decision.
“The mobilisation started last week and it is for two weeks. Each branch is expected to pick a day and have theirs. Then, we will meet and collate all the findings and address the press. The National Executive Council will meet and take a decision going forward,” he stated.
When asked why the union decided to mobilise for a strike despite NIREC’s intervention, Oshodeke said, “The mobilisation started before NIREC’s visit to the President. Until we see action, we don’t believe the Federal Government; it cannot be trusted.
“The President and the government should respect the highest religious body in the nation, the NIREC; they should honour the organisation and implement the agreement we reached with it in line with the intervention of NIREC. This is also in the interest of our children; all their children are abroad, but our children are here on the streets; the government should implement the agreement so that there will be no distortion in the system.”
Direct inquiries to Labour ministry, says Education ministry
The Federal Ministry of Education, on Monday, absolved itself of blame on issues between ASUU and the Federal Government by directing inquiries about the looming strike to the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The spokesman for the ministry, Ben Goong, disclosed this to one of our correspondents in Abuja.
“Channel your inquiries to the Minister of Labour. I have nothing to say,” Goong stated.
CONUA members attend classes in OAU as ASUU members shun work
Some lecturers under the auspices of the Congress of University Academics in the Obafemi Awolowo University, on Monday, did not observe the work-free day directed by the national leadership of ASUU.
Despite their refusal to comply with the directive, most of the classes did not hold on the campus of the institution.
Before the ASUU work-free day directive, members of the union in OAU had been on strike in protest against the non-payment of the earned academic allowance by the management of the institution.
A student in the Faculty of Arts, Hafsor Isiaq, told one of our correspondents that lectures did not hold as lecturers in the faculty stayed away from work even before the work-free day directive.
“Many of our lecturers belong to ASUU. So, they have been staying away from work. Lectures are not holding in most of the faculties, but I learnt that some lecturers, who are not members of ASUU, are attending to students,” she said.
When contacted, the CONUA Secretary at the OAU, Dr Henry Oripeloye, said, “Our members are not part of ASUU’s work-free day. They are attending to students.”
The ASUU Chairman in the institution, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, had told journalists that members of the union were observing an industrial action to press home their demand for the payment of earned academic allowances before the work-free day directive by the ASUU national body.
We’re getting members prepared for strike – Ekiti varsity ASUU
The Chairman, ASUU, Ekiti State University chapter, Dr Kayode Arogundade, said that the union’s mobilisation congress that held on Monday on the campus of the institution was to sensitise members to be prepared for an industrial action.
“We are having a mobilisation congress. We want to tell our people to get prepared that by February 13, if the government decides not to honour agreements with the union, we will shut down,” Arogundade said.
Gombe varsity lecturers shun ASUU directive
Normal academic activities continued at the Gombe State University contrary to ASUU’s directive as observed on Monday by one of our correspondents.
Students, who were in the examination mood, were spotted studying for the examinations.
Speaking in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, the branch Chairman of ASUU, Dr Suleiman Jauro, said branches of the union were free to decide on any day of the week between Monday and Thursday to register their displeasure.
UNIBEN ASUU observes work-free day
ASUU members at the University of Benin, on Monday, observed the work-free day as directed by the national body and warned of an impending strike.
The union, in a statement by the Chairman and Secretary, Ray Chikogu and Success Absomwan, respectively, said it was compelled to state that the Federal Government and its agents were determined to cripple academic activities in the nation’s universities.
Skeletal activities observed at UNIZIK
There were skeletal activities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, on Monday as lecturers and students were seen gathered in groups discussing matters of interest.
One of our correspondents, who visited the Awka campus of the institution, observed that most lecture theatres were devoid of academic activities.
One of the lecturers, who identified himself simply as Dr Ije, said the situation was connected to the Monday sit-at-home declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra across the South-East.
The lecturer added that ASUU in the institution had already observed its lecture-free day on February 1.
By Grace Edema, Deborah Tolu-Kolawole, Bola Bamigbola, Abiodun Nejo, Chima Azubuike, Tunde Oyekola, Olufemi Olaniyi, Adeyinka Adedipe and Ikenna Obianeri