No end in sight to ASUU strike

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The current strike by the Academic Staff Union of may take a long time to end as the federal government has said that it negotiating with the union under the pressure of strike may lead to coming up with agreements that would be difficult to implement.

It would be recalled that ASUU had on Sunday begun an indefinite strike nationwide over the non-implementation of the memorandum of action (MOA) signed with the federal government.

President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi had declared: “Having waited patiently for action and meaningful negotiation with reasonable men using the principle of collective bargaining that ASUU at its NEC meeting of 3rd and 4th November 2018 at the FUTA, resolved to resume the nationwide strike action it suspended in September 2017 with immediate effect.

“This strike will be total, comprehensive and indefinite. Our members shall withdraw their services until government fully implements all outstanding issues as contained in the MOA of 2017, and concludes the renegotiation of the 2009 agreements.

He said the grey areas in their agitation included failure to carry out the forensic audit of the earned academic allowances of the lecturers since 2017 and the payment of only N20 billion out of an agreed N220 billion annually.

But the minister of education, Mr. Adamu Adamu said a press conference in Abuja that ASUU’s problems with the government began during the Umaru Yar’Adua administration in 2009 and appealed to the aggrieved lecturers that the government was already making efforts to address their concerns.

He said one of the concerns is fund being demanded by ASUU which he said would be released by the government soon.

“The issue of the release of N20 billion to the universities – on this, let me state in unequivocal terms that I am in touch with the minister of finance and that she is very optimistic this will be released in the coming weeks.

“For us to negotiate under the pressure of strike, we will end up producing the kind of agreement we had in 2009, which almost all stakeholders have agreed is not easily implementable,” he said.

Adamu said the federal government would have honoured its obligations to ASUU if international oil prices had not crashed after 2009.

He said the federal government provided an agreement in 2009 for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3tn over a period of six years.

“The issues necessitating this strike date back to 2009 when the then government of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua signed an agreement with ASUU on the funding of federal universities. The agreement provided for funding of universities to the tune of N1.3 trillion over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that government would meet the terms of agreement.

“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years, thereby throwing the country into an economic hardship. At the inception of this administration, the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose-diving into a recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education.

“We exited recession not too long ago, and we are just beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily beginning to pick up. If this trend continues, definitely, the education sector will also improve.

“Against this background, I want to appeal to all parents, students and in particular ASUU women and men to continue to exercise restraint in terms of their response to the plight of the education sector. We must also be mindful that there are other sectors with similar competing needs,” he said.

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