At least two zones of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have asked Nigerians to hold the Federal Government responsible if the body of university lecturers embarks on another strike.
The Abuja and Bauchi zones of the union said this on Tuesday Septemer 14, 2021 while accusing the government of not implementing the agreement it signed with the lecturers in December 2020.
In March 2020, ASUU embarked on a strike as a result of its disagreement with the Federal Government on the funding of universities, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution, funding and revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, promotion arrears and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
ASUU held several meetings with the Federal Government on the UTAS and the other issues, which were approved by the government, with a promise of prompt implementation.
The government’s assurance of implementation, which was accompanied by the signing of a Memorandum of Action, led to the calling off of the strike on December 24, 2020, after the Federal Government also agreed to exclude ASUU members from the IPPIS.
However, ASUU for some weeks now has been urging the government to fulfil the agreements contained in the Memorandum of Action, which it signed with the union.
As a result, the Abuja zone of the union, at its congress on Tuesday September 14 2021, accused the Federal Government of reneging on its promises and warned that such an action could lead to a fresh industrial action in the nation’s universities.
The union said it could no longer guarantee industrial harmony in public universities due to the attitude of the government to the agreements.
The zonal coordinator, Dr Salahu Lawal, disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja.
Lawal urged Nigerians and parents with children in public universities to hold the government responsible for the consequences that might arise from the non-implementation of the MoA.
Lawal also added that signing into law the draft renegotiated 2009 agreement and the release of revitalisation funds to public universities would address the deplorable conditions under which students live and learn.
He stated, “ASUU has for long laid bare to both the government and Nigerians the decrepit state of infrastructure on our campuses, which has been the bane of research activities in our universities.
“Our call for urgent intervention in this respect has been acknowledged by the government.”
The Zonal Coordinator, ASUU, Bauchi Zone, Prof Lawan Abubakar said, another disturbing trend was that professors and readers (associate professors), who were supposed to retire at the age of 70, were being forcefully retired by the IPPIS through the abrupt stoppage of their salaries in violation of the Universities Miscellaneous Act of 2012.
He noted that the salaries paid to the union members were not commensurate with their ranks based on the prevailing salary table, wondering where the “unauthorised” deductions were going to.
He said, “What we have been suffering is a theft of our salaries. At the end of every month, no one can say for certain what his/her exact salary will be as a result of unauthorised deductions; one must just do with what the IPPIS throws at you.
The zonal coordinator accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and the Accountant-General of the Federation of not being willing to solve the problems.
He said members of ASUU in the Bauchi zone had been stretched beyond their elastic limit and could not continue to wait for the government and its agents displaying all manners of antics, which amounted to delay tactics.
Abubakar added, Our members are not happy with us because they have waited this long with the timelines expiring more than eight months ago and we have not called them back.
“Anytime from now, the union will conclude the process. We have already started the process of going back and when we exhaust our procedures, we will announce the date for the strike.