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General News of Sunday, 2 January 2022

Source: www.punchng.com

ASUU dismisses FG’s N52.5bn, says strike likely soon

ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said the N30bn Revitalisation Fund and N22.5bn Earned Academic Allowance totalling N52.5bn released by the Federal Government is not enough to deal with the challenges facing the university system.

The ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, noted in an interview with Sunday PUNCH that there was a possibility that the union would still go on strike, unless the government addressed its demands, including the 2009 agreement.

The Federal Government had said it paid lecturers N30bn Revitalisation Fund and N22.5bn Earned Academic Allowance. It noted that it had made some progress in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding the government reached with the union.

Osodeke described the fund released by the government as a token payment, adding that it was not enough for lecturers to change their minds on the suspended strike.

He, therefore, asked the Federal Government to address the issues concerning the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, which the union rejected and asked to be replaced with the University Transparency, Accountability Solution. He also said renegotiation and resuscitation of universities had not been addressed.

The union suspended its nine months strike on December 24, 2020 after its National Executive Council met over the understanding the union had with the Federal Government. The union commenced the strike over the non-payment of salaries of its members who failed to enroll into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system and some other agreements the union had with the government.

The union gave deadlines and threatened that it would not hesitate to withdraw its services if the government reneged on its promises.

The suspended strike began in March over the non-payment of salaries of ASUU members who failed to enrol into the Federal Government’s IPPIS, a payroll software mandated for all public officials and some unmet agreements between ASUU and successive administrations. The union embarked on different strike actions since the agreement was signed in 2009.

Speaking on the N52.5bn fund, Osodeke stated, “There is an agreement and we want them to implement the agreement. The issue is not about money. There is the issue of renegotiation, there is the issue of resuscitation of the universities, and there is the issue of UTAS. So, you don’t just come and throw a little money and think the challenge has been resolved.

“This is what our political class is doing. They believe that once they throw a little money, everybody will run back. That is the problem. So, it is not about the token they have given. There are more fundamental issues.”

Osodeke stated that the planned strike in the new year was a possibility, adding that the union decided to shelve the strike earlier because the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council intervened and promised to prevail on the Federal Government to implement the agreement.

But the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said there was no justification for another strike by ASUU, adding that the Federal Government had addressed the issues raised by the union.

He, however, explained that it might not be possible to stop any group that had made up its mind to embark on strike.

On what the Federal Government planned to do if the union goes on strike, the minister said there was no Plan B since there was no possibility of hiring lecturers from the moon.

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