The National Executive Committee of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU will commence its two-day conference at the University of Lagos, Akoka, today, to finalize the union’s decision on an upcoming strike.
The Union will make the final decision on the strike – to be reached by voting – known at the end of the meeting on Sunday, according to Saturday Punch.
The union had expressed grievances over the failure of the Federal Government to fulfill some of the agreements it made as far back as 2009.
ASUU had on November 15, 2021, given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum over the failure to meet the demands. The lecturers threatened to embark on another round of industrial action following the alleged “government’s unfaithfulness” in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union, leading to the suspension of the 2020 strike action.
After the union’s National Executive Council meeting at the University of Abuja on November 13 and 14, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, lamented that despite meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on October 14, 2021, on issues, including funding for revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution, promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system payment, none of its demands had been met.
Following the threat, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, promised that the union would be paid.
A few weeks after, ASUU suspended the planned strike as N22.1bn earned allowances were paid to lecturers in federal universities. On the heels of the union’s renewed agitations, the co-chairmen of the National Inter-religious Council, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), last month over the lack of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding the government signed with ASUU in 2009 and others.
At the meeting, Buhari said the government remained committed to fulfilling the promises made to ASUU. The President also stated that he had mandated Ngige, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, and his (Buhari’s) Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, to look into the demands of the union.
But Osodeke in an interview with one of our correspondents insisted that the Federal Government could not be trusted despite the promise of the President.
In pursuance, the union consequently declared Monday, February 9, 2022, as a lecture-free day to mobilize its members ahead of what it described as the longest strike in history.
Several chapters of the union embraced the directive and had held several congresses where they told the public to hold the government responsible if the union decides to embark on strike.
A final decision on the impending strike will be reached this weekend as ASUU NEC meets from February 12 (today) and February 13, at UNILAG.
According to Saturday PUNCH, the decision on strike would be put to voting and all the members present would vote either for or against it. He said, “The president of our union is not the one to decide on the strike. Also, none of the officers is expected to unilaterally decide on it. The issues at stake are to be tabled and debated at the meeting.
“Then, all the NEC members will vote either for or against the strike. Whatever we decide on Sunday would form the next line of action.”
Asked if there are enough grounds for the lecturers to go on strike, they would embark on it.
“Yes, we have even started the strike earlier than now. But as parents, we have been waiting for the government to yield the ground and fulfill the agreements it voluntarily entered with us,” the punch added.
Meanwhile, Ngige has promised to step into the dispute if both powers block fails to resolve the issue. The minister told one of the punch correspondents they can only perform reconciling roles, as they are not the employer of lecturers.
He said, “The Ministry of Education is their employer and we have handed over the necessary tools to them. The major issue with ASUU now is the deployment of UTAS which is under the purview of NITDA which is under the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy. The NUC also has its role to play.
“My role is to play a reconciliatory officer. If their employers and the NUC fail to reconcile them, then I step in as the reconciliatory officer. It’s not more than that. But I know their employers are finding ways to resolve these issues.”