ASUU threatens strike over unpaid allowance
By Ibizugbe Osahon
Once again, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike to press home its demands for the implementation of its 2009 agreement with the Federal Government.
It could be recalled that this is not the first time the body had threatened to embark on a strike for exactly the same reason. Prof Olusoji Sowande, the ASUU Lagos zone coordinator, revealed the plans for a strike at a news conference on Tuesday, August 30 in Lagos.
Prof Sowande while speaking said that the union was planning to go on another strike after several efforts to ensure the government address the pending demands, proved abortive.
He stated that the 2009 agreement between the federal government and ASUU, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on funding of state universities, breaches of the conditions of service and re -negotiation of the agreement, were all still pending till date.
Other demands he mentioned include: the exclusion of Nigerian universities from Pension Management Company, non-release of NEEDS Assessment Intervention Fund, funding of state universities, earned academic allowance and renegotiation of the agreement.
He explained that the union had embarked on strike in 2012 and 2013 as part of the efforts to make the government implement the agreement, yet up till date the issues remained unresolved. He also said that the 2009 agreement provided for a periodic review after every three years which had not been done.
“The review of the agreement should have been undertaken in 2012 and 2015 but that did not happen. “The implication is that our union has shown enough patriotism and understanding on these matters in the last four years.
We are perplexed and disappointed that both the Federal and State Governments are not responding to our consistent appeals to bring about genuine transformation in the education sector, ‘’ he said. According to him, embarking on strike has never been a favourable choice as the Students and ASUU members have always suffered the pains more.
It is unfortunate that the only language government appears to respect and listens to is that of industrial action like strike,’’ he said.
Sowande said that the national officers of the union had met with the minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu on May 10 and tabled ten-point demand.
He said that the minister had promised that the issues would be resolved within two weeks but nothing had been done yet. Based on MoU signed in November 2013, he said that Nigerian universities required N1.3 trillion to revitalize the system.
He added that the government was already in arrears of N605 billion as at the third quarter of 2016. He said that the government had refused to release N128 billion and N250 billion respectively for the earned academic allowance of three years after the MoU was signed.
In order to forestall this avoidable crisis, we appeal to all genuinely progressive individuals and groups to prevail on both the Federal and State Governments to commence release of funds for the listed purposes.
This is to arrest the brewing and potentially combustible situation in the Nigerian university system before it degenerated into a serious conflagration,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, ASUU on Friday, August 12, stated that it was okay with the ongoing admission screening process in some universities all over the nation.
The national president of the body, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, made this known in an interview with the NAN in Lagos.