ASUU May Join Strike As NLC Declares Total Nationwide Shutdown Today
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may join the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in its planned industrial action slated for today (Thursday) as the Congress has informed all its members and affiliate unions to join its nationwide strike.
The Punch reports that the Owerri Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Prof Uzo Onyebinama, disclosed this at a press conference at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
While stating that the strikes were not sponsored by the opposition parties, Onyebinama said the reason of ASUU strike was as a result of the Federal Government’s inability to fulfill the 2009 agreement with the union on the welfare of its members.
His statement read in part, “You will recall that the 2009 FGN —ASUU Agreement made provision for the re-negotiation of the Agreement every three (3) years.
“Consequently, the first renegotiation of the Agreement should have been in 2012. This was not to be. The first renegotiation of the Agreement commenced in March 2017.
“As we speak now, the renegotiation exercise has broken down since May 2018 (after 14months), due largely to the deliberate tactics adopted by the leader of the Government Team, Dr. Wale Babalakin, to scuttle the renegotiation, by jettisoning the principle of collective bargaining and the gains of previous agreements, memorandum of understanding and memorandum of action.
“In addition, the government team insisted that education ought to be funded from ‘diverse sources’ and consequently proposed the establishment of an Education Bank and a Students’ Loan Scheme.”
The Union urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, provide a platform for the leadership of ASUU to engage State Governors on issues of proliferation of universities, underfunding of state universities, undue interference in the administration of state universities, and the non-implementation of various components of the 2009 Agreement in many state universities.
The union said it would be left with no other choice than to embark on an industrial action if the contentious issues were not resolved.
In the same vein, the National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
According to him, no meaningful development will be achieved if government fails to put issues concerning education in the front burner for global reckoning and competitiveness.
Ogunyemi said reneging on agreements the government willfully entered into with ASUU had remained a major setback to the union’s efforts in taking the system to its deserved height.
He stated that just like the NLC would not be held responsible for any action it may take, should government failed to do the needful.
“We are very saddened at the way government is handling the various agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it has entered into with us.
“We have remained focused and committed on our part to ensure that we keep our own side of the bargain, just as we have equally been patient.
“Now, in the face of all this, we still discover that government seems not bother about what might happen, and that is why we are stating categorically that we will not hesitate to take necessary action to get government to understand us in our struggle to revitalise our universities.
“It is on this premise that we are calling on government to take immediate and active steps to restore the much needed sanity in our university system as well as the process of renegotiation with the union, to avert any possible act that could disrupt the academic calendar of Nigerian universities.
“NLC had been calling on government to improve the wages of Nigerian workers, having reached several agreements with it, which he said, is similar to that of ASUU.”