Anxiety as ASUU extends strike by 4 weeks, FG to release result of latest test on UTAS

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Monday directed its members to continue with the ongoing industrial action for another four weeks.

ASUU National President Professor Emmanuel Osodeke disclosed this at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja.

He told journalists that the union’s NEC empowered the members to forge ahead with the strike, saying their patience was being overtasked by the federal government’s refusal to sign the renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement more than one month after it was concluded by Professor Nimi Briggs-led committee.

Following the federal government’s refusal to implement the terms of agreement as contained  in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed by the two parties in 2020, the striking lecturers closed down public universities February 14, 2022.

There was hope of a possible reopening of the institutions following fresh parleys between the two parties.

The hope was however dashed as the teachers insisted on carrying on with the strike, a development that has heightened tension among both the parents and students.

Fresh extension

Addressing journalists in Abuja, Professor Osodeke said the four-week extension of the industrial action was to give government enough time to sign the draft agreement.

He said the union’s meeting which held Sunday at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, was to review the earlier rollover of the strike for 12 weeks from May, 2022.

The ASUU President said the union was vindicated with the revelation on the trial of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation Idris Ahmed.

 Alternative to IPPIS

On the alternative it provided against IPPIS, Professor Osodeke urged the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to release the reports of the latest test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

“The NEC meeting took place against the backdrop of government obligations as spelt out in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) it signed with ASUU on 23rd December 2020. 

“Specifically, NEC recalled that government’s failure to conclude the process of renegotiating the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deploy the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), pay outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), release agreed sum of money for the revitalization of public universities (Federal and States), address proliferation and governance issues in State Universities, settle promotion arrears, release withheld salaries of academics, and pay outstanding third-party deductions led to the initial declaration of the roll-over strike on 14th February, 2022.

“NEC viewed with seriousness the recent directive given by the President and Visitor to all Federal Universities that the Minister of Education, in consultation with other government officials, should resolve the lingering crisis and report to him within two weeks. The Union wonders why it had taken five full months and needless muscle-flexing for government to come to the realisation of the need for honest engagement.

“NEC acknowledged the growing understanding of the issues and the groundswell of support for the Union’s principled demand for a globally competitive university education in Nigeria. Nigerian universities must not be reduced to constituency projects that merely exist on paper and our scholars must be incentivised to stay back and do what they know best, here in Nigeria.

“NEC appreciated the historic nationwide protest of 26th and 27th July, 2022 organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to further create awareness on the antics of the Nigerian ruling class to destroy public education. 

ASUU renews its commitment to the struggles of NLC in championing the cause of the working and suffering Nigerians.

“NEC observed that non-signing of the draft renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement more than one month after it was concluded by Professor Nimi Briggs-led Committee is further tasking the patience of ASUU members nationwide.

“NEC further observed that the on-going trial of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, on allegation of monumental fraud has vindicated ASUU’s rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS). 

“The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is enjoined to release reports of the latest tests on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) vis-a-vis IPPIS without further delay. ASUU shall resist any attempt to truncate the deployment of UTAS with all legitimate means available to the Union,” said the university teachers.

On the insecurity in the country, the union blamed the challenges on the cumulative indifference by the political class which gave vent to pervasive atmosphere of insecurity now threatening seamless provision of educational services in the country. 

ASUU said: “The unceremonious closure of educational institutions in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), following the recent attack on Presidential Guards, betrays a panicky measure to addressing a malignant ailment. Nothing short of a comprehensive overhaul of the security architecture of the country will sustainably address the problem.

“Following extensive deliberations and taking cognisance of government’s past failures to abide by its own timelines in addressing issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MOA), NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for four weeks to give Government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues. 

“The role-over strike action is with effect from 12.01a.m on Monday, 1st August, 2022.”

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