By Demola Akinyemi
The hopes of the University students to return to schools soon may have been dashed as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said that the Federal Government (FG) has not demonstrated any willingness to end the strike as it has refused to meet any of its demands to warrant students resumption despite various engagements.
The union particularly accused the FG of peddling lies and misinforming the public about the demands of ASUU in order to paint the union black in the eyes of the stakeholders.
Zonal Coordinator of ASUU Ibadan zone comprising the University of Ibadan, University of Ilorin, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osun State University and Kwara State University, Professor Ade Adejumo said this at a press conference in Ilorin on Wednesday.
Chairpersons in the Zone in attendance were
Prof Moyosore Ajao ASUU, UNILORIN, Prof Ayoola Akinwole ASUU, UI,
Dr Biodun Olaniran – ASUU, LAUTECH,
Dr Femi Abanikanda ASUU,UNIOSUN and
Dr Dauda Adeshola ASUU, KWASU.
Against the backdrop of threats by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige that “there are other options available to government to deal with the Union for non-acceptance of their dictatorial offers”, Professor Adejumo said: “We have decided to weather the storm until the needful is done. ASUU is proud to be the last union standing against tyranny and impunity of power in Nigeria as we are beyond intimidation, being cajoled or bought over.”
Professor Adejumo in his address titled, “FGN, STOP THE BLACKMAIL, ATTEND TO OUR DEMANDS” dismissed as lies, contradictory claims by federal government spokespersons, including Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Education, Mr Sunday Echono at different occasions that federal government has met some demands of the union, they couldn’t specify for mischievous reasons
He said, “It is instructive to note that the FGN has not offered anything meaningful apart from what is presented and was rejected by ASUU at the meeting of October 28, 2020.”
Adejumo stressed that “instead, the FGN has continued to callously use hunger as a weapon to fight the Union. Apart from stifling the Union of funds by refusing to remit the check-off dues, they deducted from members’ salaries on behalf of the Union between February and June 2020, the FGN has deliberately starved members by withholding their monthly salaries. Members are owed between four (4) and eight (8) months salaries as at now.”
Adejumo listed ASUU’s demands in the current strike has to include, “The need for appropriate officers to obey universities laws and abide by collective bargaining agreements.
“The need for the implementation of all outstanding provisions in the 7th February 2019 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action.
“The need to re-commence and conclude the Re-negotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, based on ILOs collective bargaining principles within the six-week timeframe originally set for it.
“The need for Mr President, as a visitor to the Federal Universities, to constitute and activate Visitation Panels to all Universities and direct that the outcomes be fully implemented.”
The ASUU chieftain also said that “Government should welcome ASUUs ongoing innovation of a more robust system of human resources management and compensation, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which will address the peculiarities of universities and end inappropriate recruitments in the system.”
Adejumo stressed that ASUU is concerned with,” sound and quality education that will combat ignorance among the children of the rich and the poor.”
He added: “However, lackadaisical attitude of Federal Government of Nigeria towards education had shown (and is showing) that good and quality education is being taken away gradually from the children of the poor.
“Primary and secondary public schools in Nigeria were systematically destroyed by the government. The University education is also decaying and this is one of the ASUU demands that the FGN remain adamant to fulfil her promises.
“Obviously, ASUU members are ready to work at any time, but FGN is not ready by not putting in place a conducive environment for learning for students and lecturers.”
Adejumo also expressed the need, “for Government to declare a Five-Year State of Emergency in the Education Sector. During this period, at least six per cent of the GDP or 26 per cent of the FGN Budget, as well as 26 per cent of each State Government Budget, should be allocated to Education during this period.”
He added that, “The N20 billion offered by the government to be paid by the end of January 2021 is intolerable to the union,” stressing that, “This is because 220 billion has been agreed upon on since 2013 MoU. ASUU has insisted that the government should show more commitment by the reduction to 50 per cent of N220 billion which is N110 billion. After all, this money is meant for the uplifting of its universities.”