The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Tuesday said the ultimatum it issued in July did not elicit any response from the Federal Government.
The National President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Oshodeke, in an interview with one of our correspondents, stated that government had not implemented the agreement it reached with the union nor responded to the ultimatum.
The union had on July 19 issued a fresh ultimatum to the Federal Government to pay the outstanding 10-month arrears of its members’ salaries or be prepared for another industrial action.
The union gave government till August 31 to meet its demands including the resolution of issues relating to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System platform.
Between September 10 and September, 2021, all ASUU zones across the country held press conferences calling on the government to implement their demands.
They also asked Nigerians to hold the Federal Government responsible if the university lecturers embarked on another strike.
Responding to enquiries on Tuesday, ASUU president said, “Nothing yet, not a single response from the government. For now, we are in Abuja we are meeting soon. No single response from the government. We are meeting this weekend in Abuja. We want to see what we can do between now and Friday to see them. Despite the letter we wrote to them and the press conferences, they are not bothered because nothing is at stake for them.”
The union had accused the government of not implementing the agreement it signed with lecturers in December 2020.
In March 2020, ASUU embarked on a strike action following its disagreement with the Federal Government over the funding of the universities, the IPPIS, implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution, funding and revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, promotion arrears and renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement
ASUU had several meetings with government over UTAS and all the above issues were approved with a promise of prompt implementation.
The Federal Government’s assurance of implementation, which was accompanied with the signing of a Memorandum of Action led to the call off of the strike on December 24, 2020 after government also agreed to exclude ASUU from IPPIS.
Speaking at the ASUU-Lagos zone press conference, zonal coordinator, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, said the arrogance with which government had continued to wish away the collective sacrifice of their members, students and parents on the struggles was frustrating.
Odukoya said government’s failure to ensure prompt renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement had consciously “sentenced” ASUU members “to agonising poverty, encouraged brain drain and criminally promoted falling standard of education in the country.”
But in his response, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, denied claims by ASUU that the Federal Government had been shunning its leadership.
The minister, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said there was no way ASUU leaders would reach out the government and nobody would attend to them.
On some of the demands made by ASUU in its ultimatum issued to the government which has elapsed, Nwajiuba insisted that the National Universities Commission was working on them and announcement would be made once the assignment had been completed.
He said, “No one is shunning ASUU. Ask them who they reached out to. I picked your call, didn’t I?
“We have already said the NUC is working on the issues with the universities, once they are done, they will issue a statement.
“There is no way ASUU will reach out and nobody will attend to them.
“The message is simple. The NUC is working on the issues raised, the moment they are done, a statement will be issued to let everybody be aware of the situation on the ground.
In a related development, ASUU in Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti on Tuesday gave the university council and management 48 hours within which to act on its demands contained in its letter dated 16th September 16 risk an industrial action by the lecturers.
ASUU EKSU Chairman, Dr Kayode Arogundade, said the union would give the council and management two weeks within which to meet the demands in case the governing council discussed the letter at its Tuesday meeting, failure which would result in withdrawal of services by the academic staff.
Arogundade frowned upon the state government’s slash of the monthly subvention to the university from N260m to N130m and unpaid salaries and arrears to academic staff members, whom he said could not continue to work under such harrowing conditions.
The demands of ASUU, in the letter titled, ‘ASUU-EKSU position on government decision to reduce monthly subvention to EKSU for speculative reasons,’ signed by ASUU EKSU Chairman, Arogundade and Secretary, Dr Daniel Ogunwale, included “immediate reversal of monthly subvention to EKSU to N260 million”.
ASUU also demanded “refund of N624m to the purse of EKSU by the state government being the differential in subvention payments to the university since April, 2021”.
The academic staff also sought “immediate administrative trial (for alleged administrative infractions) of all alleged actors as contained in the DSS (Department of State Services) report pending determination of their financial involvement in the alleged fraud.”
They also demanded that “the university bursar should be questioned for leading a team that is constantly misleading the University towards taking wrong financial decisions” and t“automation of the university bursary should be done without further delay. More so that the contractor had since received advance payment for the project”.
In the letter, the academic staff asserted that “the reduction of monthly subvention to EKSU since April, 2021 was based on mere speculation and an act of policy inconsistency and disservice to players in the educational sector.”
ASUU, in the letter also posited that “the claim that Ekiti State started experiencing a drop in monthly allocation from FAAC (Federation Accounts Allocation Committee) effective from April 2021 is a blatant lie, instead, the state had experienced steady improvement in monthly allocation and steady growth in the IGR since then”.
The union lampooned the governor, saying he was not fair to education with the slash in subvention, adding, “He stands out as the only governor who reduced monthly subvention to university in his state during the period under coverage and till date”.
Arogundade who said there was nothing that required extra investment in the demands, said, “It just requires faithfulness and sincerity of purpose. If nothing is done to this document in the next 48 hours, we are going to shut down this university and all of us will be outside. If they are going to sack all of us, let them go ahead. We are tired of their rigmarole”.