<SUNBIGHT>~Space~Eke~11th February,2022 @ 14:48 WAT
ASUU said Nigerians should hold the government responsible if another industrial action hits the Universities in no distant time.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos Zone, has called on Nigerians to engage the Nigerian government on issues it said are currently threatening the industrial peace in public Universities.
ASUU said the union dreads embarking on strike, and that deploys it as a last resort only when all other means must have failed.
Recall that the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union had directed its various chapters to set aside a day to sensitise and mobilise Nigerians for its fight of saving the university system from collapsing.
ASUU said the Nigerian government has refused to implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) that led to the suspension of its nine-month prolonged strike in 2020.
In his speech during a press conference at the University of Lagos, Akoka, on Tuesday, the coordinator of Lagos zone of ASUU, Adelaja Odukoya, PhD, Coordinator, said the government’s refusal to listen to the union and address issues it had agreed to address in the 2020 Memorandum of Action, is drawing the line of strike.
He said the government should be held responsible should ASUU decide to embark on another round of strikes, which he noted could happen in no distant time.
Mr Odukoya’s statement reads in part: “It becomes very important and germane to address this press conference to sensitise the public and express the concerns of our union about the refusal of the federal government to sign and implement the renegotiated 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), funding of state universities, non-payment of withheld salaries, checkoff dues and promotion arrears.”
Issues at stake
Some of the lingering issues between the government and the academic staff union as listed by Mr Odukoya is the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, which he noted ought to have been reviewed every three years.
However, nine months after the renegotiation concluded in May 2021, ASUU said the government has refused to sign and implement the renegotiated agreement.
Mr Odukoya said the MoA renegotiation was allegedly deliberately frustrated and delayed by the leadership of the erstwhile leadership of the renegotiated committee.
“However, with the removal of Dr Wale Babalakin and his replacement with Prof. Munzali Jubril, the renegotiation was concluded in May 2021. The union is, however, taken aback that since the conclusion of the renegotiation 9 months ago, the Federal Government is yet to sign and implement the renegotiated agreement,” Mr Odukoya said.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in December said the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) gave positive feedback on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), but that with little things to be addressed.
Two months after the submission, the union decried that the government is yet to approve the use of UTAS for universities, saying it is still trying “to force the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) down its throat.”
ASUU also alleges that the IPPIS is found to be marred with irregularities.
He said; “It is against this backdrop that our union calls on the Federal Government to immediately approve the deployment of UTAS as a payment platform in our universities if we expect improvement in the operation and conditions of our ivory towers
“The deliberate refusal of the government to adopt UTAS as a payment platform in the university system further exposed the lip service that our government pays to the war against corruption. Government should therefore embrace ASUU’s innovation and deployment of a more robust system of human resource management and compensation which has been designed to address the peculiarities of our university system and end inappropriate recruitments in the system.”
Funding private universities
ASUU also demands the regulation of the proliferation of state-owned universities by governors who it alleges owe staff salaries and payment of university subventions, leaving the universities with failing infrastructures.
He said; “This proliferation has led to the decayed infrastructural facilities, withholding of salaries of academic staff, no research grants etc. The common practice of State Governments withholding the salary of our members for a period ranging from three to eight months is condemnable! In most cases, net salaries are paid and sometimes not paid at all.
“The continued denial and non-release of subventions to cater for the needs of these universities by reason of exigencies is unacceptable.
“Our union wants to call on the government to, without delay, review the laws of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and make it more stringent for the establishment of universities in the country.”■
[Courtesy: Premium Times]