Avert the looming ASUU strike

The two-week ultimatum issued by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, that it would embark on strike if agreements with the federal government are not met, should be treated as a matter of utmost national importance with a view to averting the industrial unrest.

Addressing a press conference and protest organised by the Calabar Zone of ASUU at Abia State University, Uturu, penultimate Thursday, the union’s zonal coordinator, Comrade Happiness Uduk, said that various agreements between ASUU and the federal government were yet to be honoured, leaving the academic staff and education sector at large in deplorable condition.

She listed the issues to include non-salary increment, salary arrears, poor funding of universities and non-payment of Earned Academic Allowances, among others.

The union rejected the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA) in Abia State University. It also condemned the victimisation of members of ASUU in Ebonyi State University (EBSU).

It expressed regrets that monthly wages of lecturers have been rubbished by the high cost of living in the country. ASUU also rejected the federal government’s loan package for Nigerian students, warning that it would enslave the beneficiaries.

“Universities would be shut down for academic activities in the next two weeks. Please take the message to them,” Uduk said.

Regrettably, the Nigerian university system has been bogged down by incessant strikes, owing principally to successive government’s refusal and/or failure to honour its gentleman’s agreement with ASUU. 

The nine-month elongated strike action by lecturers, which crippled universities nationwide during the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, is too harrowing an experience to relive

It is, therefore, gratifying that the federal government moved swiftly to avert the looming strike by ASUU. Speaking after a meeting with the federal government on its ultimatum, president of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osedeke, expressed optimism that with the commencement of negotiations, all outstanding issues will be resolved amicably.

He said the Minister of Education Tahir Mamman, promised to follow-up on what had been agreed on. Osodeke explained that both parties were asked to set up committees to look into the 10 demands listed in a letter it wrote to the federal government on Monday. He revealed that they would meet the government in two weeks for another review.

“We have not decided on anything yet but we only created committees to look into our demands. There are some things they also asked us to do. We will be meeting in the next two weeks again.

“We had discussions on all the issues and we have given assignments to some people to look at and we have agreed on the way forward.

“So, we will go back and give the details to our members. What is important is that we have started the process and our prayer is that we resolve it for the interest of our young men and the interest of our nation”, he said.

The proactive response to ASUU’s ultimatum by the federal government is commendable and quite reassuring that the renewed hope agenda of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government in the education sector is on track.

Nevertheless, we urge the federal government to honour agreements it freely enters into with ASUU, the breach of which has been the cause of friction between the duo. Mr President’s campaign promise that universities will not embark on strike under his watch, which has, so far, been delivered, must be sustained.