University teachers are set for major strike, it was announced yesterday.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) said the strike “will be total, comprehensive and indefinite” to press home lecturers’ demand for improved welfare and working conditions.
ASUU National President Dr. Biodun Ogunyemi said the union took the decision after a nationwide consultation with its members at an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) on Sunday.
According to him, there will be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meetings of any kind in any of the union’s branches during the strike.
He said ASUU must make the Federal and state governments to implement the provisions of the 2009 Agreement, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 and the understanding reached in November 2016 in order to lay the foundation for a university system capable of producing a country of our dream.
Dr. Ogunyemi said: “The foundation of development of any nation lies on its attention to education. No nation can grow beyond the level of its educational development. Any genuine move to transform Nigeria into an economically viable and politically stable country must begin with a firm commitment to an all-round transformation of the country’s education.
“ASUU has been vociferous on the primacy of the university education system because it is the repository of ideas for invention, innovation and national transformation.
“Consequently, based on a nationwide consultation with our members, an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU rose on Saturday, 12th August, 2017 with a resolution to embark on an indefinite strike action starting from Sunday, 13th August, 2017.
”The nationwide action is total and comprehensive. During the strike, there shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meeting of any kind in any of our branches.
”Lastly, we call on all patriots to prevail on owners of public universities to be alive to their responsibilities. Indeed, ASUU struggles should be Nigerians’ struggles.
The ASUU president also accused the political class of paying lip-service to addressing the rot and decay in Nigeria’s university education.
According to him, Nigeria is beginning to lose the little gains it had achieved through the struggles of the union, labour movement, the media and other patriotic organisations at salvaging the country’s crisis-ridden public universities.
”It is, however, disappointing that despite prime importance of university education, the political class in Nigeria has continued to pay mere lip-service to addressing the rot and decay in the sub-sector.
”As things stand, the country is beginning to lose the little gains achieved through the struggles of ASUU, the labour movement, the media and other patriotic organisations at salvaging our crisis-ridden public universities.”
The Federal Government said yesterday that negotiations were ongoing between it and the union on the issues arising from the 2009 agreement and the MoU of 2013.
The Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Education, Mrs. Chinenye Ihuoma, said:
“If it is on ASUU, just know that the FG/ASUU renegotiation 2009 is ongoing with the government team under the leadership of Dr. B. O Babalakin (SAN).”
Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu, in January inaugurated a 16-member team to renegotiate the 2009 agreement.
The committee, headed by Babalakin, was given the mandate to dialogue with the ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Associated & Allied Institutions (NASU) to ensure sustainable peace and industrial harmony in tertiary institutions.
The ASUU president said the Wale Babalakin-led committee lacked the powers to resolve the issue as there were unimplemented items in the 2009 agreement.
He said government had ignored the system, stressing that the political class had also shifted attention to sending their wards to private universities and universities abroad, leaving public universities to collapse
”Among the issues in current disputes involved in the 2009 agreement and 2013 MOU are funding for the revitalisation of public universities and earned academic allowances.
”Others include registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), University staff school, fractionalisation and non payment of salaries,’’ Ogunyemi said.
But the National Parents Teachers Association (NAPTAN) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) faulted the strike. Both organisations said they were not consulted before ASUU declared the strike.
NAPTAN National President Haruna Danjuma said given the kidnapping of some ASUU members at the University of Maiduguri, the authorities had not done enough to guarantee security of workers and students.
He said: “Though we were not consulted by ASUU, as parents, we have been in consultation with them to find a lasting solution to their demands.
“We were shocked by their (ASUU) decision. We parents are not 100 per cent in support of the strike; but in a situation where it involves lives of students and lecturers, we shall not keep our eyes closed.”
“I understand that students of Bayero State University are meant to start their exams today (yesterday), but with this strike, it no longer looks feasible.
“As parents, we are concerned about the wellbeing of our children from primary up to university levels.
“Let government call a roundtable discussion to stop this strike now before things get complicated.”
CAN National President Rev. Samson Ayokunle said CAN was unhappy about the situation.
Speaking through his spokesperson Bayo Oladeji, he urged the Federal Government to immediately begin talks with the union.
He said: “As far as we are concerned, ASUU did not consult us and I do not think they consulted other stakeholders, such as parents and students, before declaring the strike.
“To us, this is unfortunate. The Federal Government too has not helped matters by playing into their hands. From time to time, we have witnessed situations where ASUU embarks on strikes only for government to beg them to resume with a promise to attend to their demands, but in the end, nothing will happen.
“Our children are now spending between seven to eight years in universities before they graduate and CAN is not happy about the situation.”