By Gabriel Dike, Lagos
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday informed Nigerians that the Federal Government is pushing lecturers in the country to embark on another industrial action.
The union also disclosed that strikes by university lecturers have led to improved facilities in the nation’s public universities through the intervention of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
ASUU Lagos Zonal Coordinator, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, flanked by the National Treasurer of ASUU, Prof. Olusiji Sowande and branch chairmen, said ”we know what they want and we will give them at the right time. We are appealing to Nigerians to appeal to the Federal Government to do the needful before it is too late.
”The Federal Government is pushing ASUU to the wall. What we are doing is calling the government to do the needful before we take the next action. ASUU has the capacity to do what it can do best, which is a strike but we have chosen to dialogue first and also take our case to the Nigerian public.
”We don’t want to embark on strike but we are being forced to take that route. If not for our strikes, our universities will have looked national museum. ASUU led to the birth of TETFund which has salvaged public institutions, particularly state universities.”
Odukoya said the union was compelled to embark on a nine months strike that led the government to implement the ASUU-FG 2009 agreement and breached severally leading to the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Actions MoAs after strikes in 2013, 2017 and 2019.
His words: ”We are again, expressing our frustration at the depressing arrogance with which government has continued to wish away the collective sacrifice of our members, our students and their parents on these struggles.”
He faulted the claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige that the Federal Government has met ASUU’s demands, stressing that out of nine demands, two have been implemented which are the composition of visitation panels and payment of promotion arrears.
According to him, the seven outstanding demands include funding and revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), state universities, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), IPPIS, promotion arrears and renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG agreement.
Odukoya said the union is awaiting the approval of the Federal Government on the use of UTAS after its leadership had demonstrated how it functions to government officials and stressed that UTAS is the ultimate nemesis of the IPPIS.
” Despite UTAS passing all tests, challenges, roadblocks and inquisitions on its part, the government has refused and failed to deploy UTAS which demonstrated most robustly and comprehensively its qualitative superiority to the inefficient and corruption-prone IPPIS.”
The coordinator revealed that the government through the implementation of IPPIS had denied ASUU over one-year check-off dues, ”our union is being owed billions in unremitted check-off dues, in addition to third party deductions like cooperative contributions.
”Let me reiterate the fact that our union is being pushed to the wall. The history of our past struggles to salvage our public universities has equipped us to know that until we bite, the government will remain unconcerned.”
ASUU National Treasurer, Prof. Olusiji Sowande, said ”we have been patient and our members are agitated. We don’t enjoy going on strike. The Federal Government is forcing us to go on another strike and we are not afraid of embarking on strike.”
Sowande explained that from indication after the demonstration of UTAS, the Federal Government is not sincere about the use of UTAS that can be operated from the universities unlike IPPIS is domiciled in Abuja.