The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says there is no hope in sight to suspend its lingering strike due to alleged lack of commitment by the Federal Government
ASUU, Abuja zonal coordinator Prof. Theophilus Lagi disclosed this at a news conference on Tuesday in Gwagwalada.
The zone comprises the Federal University of Technology, Minna; Nasarawa State University, Keffi; Ibrahim Babangida University, Lapai; Federal University of Lafia, and the University of Abuja.
Lagi said the strike had lingered for several months as the government had yet to show any serious commitment or willingness towards addressing the union’s core demands for students to resume studies.
According to him, members of the union have been advised to seek other legitimate means of survival as the government has not released salaries withheld since February 2020.
“Today, we wish to let Nigerians especially our students and parents know that there is no hope in sight to ending or suspending the ASUU strike that lingered for long.
“Government is yet to show serious commitment towards addressing our core demands.
“One needs not to be a psychologist to understand the behavior and recent utterances of the minister of labour and employment Dr Chris Ngige by showing his disdain for Nigerian academics and has failed to play the role of an unbiased umpire in moderating the imbroglio.
“He has now become the spokesperson to the accountant general of the federation and ministry of finance, instead of finding solution for lecturers to get back to work.
“He is turning the wheel of progress backward by setting ASUU on collision with other pressure groups in the university.
“In the past few weeks for instance, Ngige has said one thing when he met with the Union and a different thing on the same subject in an interview with the media.
“This double character of a minister and a purported negotiator in the face-off should be a source of worry to not only Nigerian students but parents who patronise public universities.
“On this, we will like to educate the honorable minister that public universities in Nigeria are creatures of law as each University is established by an Act enacted by the National Assembly,” he said.
Lagi maintained that in spite of agitations with comprehensive and indefinite strike to compel the federal government to address its core demands, government had not shown any commitment.
He, however, called on the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, payment and mainstreaming of earned academic allowances into salaries, release of funds for revitalisation of the Nigerian university system among others.
The coordinator condemned the event at Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) where the authority allegedly invited the military to assist in the conduct of the 2019/2020 first semester examinations.
“Another bizarre turn of events is unfolding at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) where a letter written by the Ag. Registrar, Barr. TM Ikpenwa on 12th November 2020 inviting the 103 Battalion of the Nigerian Army to assist in the organisation and conduct of the 2019/2020 First semester Examinations.
“Such involvement of the military crack team in a normal University function is primitive and height of insult and lack of regard to the Academia in Nigeria.
“The union wishes to call on the authorities at ESUT to refrain from the ugly trend because we do not want a repeat of 1976 in Nigerian universities,” he said.
He described the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as better suited in the University system, as it recognised all agreements entered into between government and university-based trade unions.
Ladi noted that the UTAS platform ensured simultaneous payments of employees’ salaries and third-party deductions like tax, pension, Union dues, cooperatives and bank loans.