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No retreat on strike, government is insincere, says ASUU

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[FILE PHOTO] Left- ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi

• Denies plot to abort election
• Insists on removal of Babalakin

President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, has announced that the union would not suspend the ongoing strike due to alleged insincerity on the part of the government to address the contentious issues.

At a press briefing held at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), where members, zonal and chapter heads congregated yesterday, Ogunyemi, who disparaged the Federal Government for its alleged negligence on the contentious issues, described the rumour that the ASUU’s struggle is politically motivated to disrupt the 2019 election as laughable and unfounded.

According to him, the only thing that will make ASUU to shift ground is demonstration of serious commitment on the part of government to the implementation of the spirit and letters of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement, as well as the resulting 2013 MoU and 2017 MoA.

This will pave the way for the rapid transformation of the nation’s public universities for improved efficiency, infrastructural development and global competitiveness.

“Since the commencement of our industrial action on November 4, 2018, we have had six meetings with agents of the Federal Government, with no clear commitment from them to resolve all the issues. Government appears to have adopted the ‘keep-them-talking’ strategy, while deceiving the pubic that progress was being made, and that partial agreement had been reached with the union.

“Through its press interactions, the government through its representatives had falsely raised the hope of the Nigerian public on the state of discussion with out union. Our expectation from a very responsive and sincere government is that by now, all outstanding issues would have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Unfortunately, government is yet to show sincerity in addressing the problem,” the ASUU president said.

“Nigerians should please note that, as at today, there are no concrete commitments on the part of government to warrant considering the suspension of this strike, which we did all that was possible to avoid. We appreciate the understanding of our students, their parents, among whom are many ASUU members, and all people of goodwill since the resumption of this preventable strike. ASUU does not take your sacrifice for granted. With your continued support, we can make the Nigerian ruling class come to accept the centrality of university education in improving the human condition.”

Maintaining its call on the removal of Dr. Wale Babalakin as the chairman of the Renegotiation Committee of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, the ASUU boss said, “We have strong reasons to believe that the continuation of Babalakin as the head of the renegotiation with ASUU will not yield good fruits. He is ideologically fixated on tuition fees and does not agree that education is a public good.”

On the accusation that the strike has political undertone, Ogunyemi said: “In 2013 when we had a six-month strike, the then Goodluck Jonathan’s government said opposition was sponsoring us, today that opposition is in power, who is sponsoring us? We are not perturbed because we see all these as distractions. To us, it is not an issue. For those accusing us of planning to abort the election, it is unfounded and there is no basis for it. Our strike has nothing to do with election. We do not want to create problem for this country, but let government not create problem for itself.”

On whether ASUU will release its members, since most of them function as returning officers during election, Ogunyemi said, “INEC chairman has called us for a meeting, precisely on January 4th, 2019, when we listen to them, we will know what next to do.”

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