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ASUU warns on imminent strike

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By Dayo Adesulu

Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU has warned that if the Federal Government fails to honour its agreement that led to the suspension of 2017 strike, it will proceed on indefinite strike.

Speaking on Tuesday during a press briefing held at ASUU Secretariat, UNILAG, its Zonal Coordinator, Professor Olusiji Sowande said the Union is not interest in industrial action, urging stakeholders to prevail on the FG to honour their agreement.

“Our last strike was conditioner, therefore we will not give the government any ultimatum before we’ll proceed on strike.”

According to him, in 2009, 2013 and 2017 Memorandum of Understanding were reached between ASUU and Federal Government which they failed to honour.

The key outstanding issues, he noted include: “Payment of fractions and non-payment of salaries, earned academic allowances, non-release of operational license of NUPEMCO.

“non-implementation of the provisions of the 2014 Pension Reform Act with respect to retired professors and their salaries, removal of Universities Staff Schools from funding by government.”

Other demands from ASUU are funds for the revitalisation of Public Universities that involves implementation of Needs Assessment Report and poor funding of existing State Universities and proliferation of universities by their Visitors. ”

Sowande pointed out that the N20 billion promised made by the Federal Government on Monday was not meant for ASUU, adding that it was announced to blackmail the Union.

According to him, the money is meant for the public universities and not for ASUU.

The union also called for the offsetting and mainstreaming of the balance of EAA arrears into annual budget starting with a supplementary budget for 2018 , as well as provision of a platform for ASUU leaders to interface with governors on poor funding and and proliferation of state universities.

Addressing journalists in Lagos, the Coodinator, ASUU Lagos Zone, Professor Olusiji Sowande regretted that during the inuaguration of the federal government renegotiation team last year, the Minister  of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu had given the impression that the renegotiation process would not go beyond two weeks.

He expressed concern that, “after series of meetings of the renegotiation committee spanning a period of 14 months (March 2017 to May 2018), no meaningful progress was made principally due to the disposition of the leader of the government team, Dr. Wale Babalakin.”

He augued that his autocratic habit of imposing his views on the committee has been a clog on the wheel of progress of the renegotiation process.

Sowande said his attitude is against the principle of collective bargaining, adding that it was impossible to build on the gains of previous agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Action (MoA) with the Nigerian government, in order to arrive at a mutually agreed path of repositioning the university system for global competitiveness.

He said in the MoA of 2017, government promised a total sum of N20 billion as a sign of its commitment to revitalise public universities but as at the time of signing the MoA, government was still owning a revitalization fund of 220 billion.

“Let me make it clear that government has never released  any money to our union. The manner in which the announcement was made, was intended to blackmail the union. The purported release of N20 billion is coming after one year as against one month agreed in the MoA of 2017. Our expectation is that by now, government should have offset more than N220 billion to the Nigerian public universities as contained in the 2013 MoU for upgrade of facilities and infrastructural development,”Sowande stressed

The coodinator who also called for a speedy release of operational license of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO) said there are doubts about the sincerity of PENCOM in granting the license.

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