Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to embark on industrial action if the Federal Government fails to fulfill outstanding agreements in the next three weeks.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, ASUU National President, Emmanuel Osodeke, insisted that the government’s failure to fulfil previous agreements had left the union with no option than to call for another strike.
“We are giving the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum. If after three weeks they don’t meet our demands, we will be going on strike.
“We believe we have tried enough by giving them enough time,” he said.
Last year, in a bid to bring an end to an industrial action that lasted more than six months, the Federal Government had signed a memorandum of understanding with ASUU.
The government promised to pay earned allowances to the lecturers and adopt the union’s University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment of member’s salaries.
The government also agreed to other demands such as renegotiation of conditions of service and injection of revitalisation funds.
Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige told newsmen in November 2020 that the government had met six of ASUU’s demands.
But in September this year, ASUU in a statement after its meeting at the Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, chaired by its Coordinator in LAUTECH, Oyebamiji Oyegoke said that the government only addressed two out of its eight demands in the last nine months.
Oyegoke said that the strike was “a ticking bomb” and expressed concerns that the educational system would be engulfed in another crisis.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU stated that only salary shortfall and setting up of Visitation Panels to the Federal Government-owned universities have been addressed by the government in nine months.
“Other demands such as the renegotiation of conditions of service, injection of revitalisation funds, payment of earned academic allowances, implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) have not been addressed,” he said.
Oyegoke added that the government has not addressed other issues such as proliferation of state universities, release of withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues of unions, which were all contained in the December 22, 2020 Memorandum of Action.
He said that the claim by the minister that the money allocated for revitalisation of public universities had been paid as contained in the 2020 Memorandum of Agreement was not true.
According to him, the minister had confirmed in August that the money was still in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and was only awaiting application by the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu for eventual transfer to the NEEDS Assessment Fund Account.
He said that the government’s claim that it was working hard to facilitate the release of money by the CBN since January 2021 leaves a sour taste in the mouth.