By Uche Amunike
The Nigeria Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Strike has been moved to last for another 12 weeks.
According to a statement signed by the union’s President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the 12-week extension was given in order to avail the government enough time to resolve all outstanding issues satisfactorily, stating that the roll over strike was effective 12am, May 9, 2022.
He further stated that the decision was taken after the meeting of the National Executive Council that started on Sunday night at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja.
The statement reads: ‘After extensive deliberations, noting Government’s failure to live up to its responsibilities and speedily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) within the additional eight-week roll–over strike period declared on 14th March 2022, NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for twelve weeks to give Government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.’
‘The roll-over strike action is with effect from 12.01 a.m. on Monday, 9th May 2022.’
These are excerpts of their press release, titled, ‘Update on ASUU Roll-Over Strike’:
‘The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting on Sunday, 8th May 2022 at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja.’
‘The meeting was called to review developments since the Union declared an eight-week total and comprehensive roll-over strike action at the end of its emergency NEC meeting at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja on 14th March, 2022. The strike action came on the heels of the Government’s failure to satisfactorily implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the Union in December 2020 on renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), funding for revitalization of public universities (both Federal and States), proliferation and governance issues in State Universities, promotion arrears, withheld salaries (owed for over 20 months in some cases), and Non-emittance of third-party deductions.’
It noted with disappointment that the three-man Committee set up by President Buhari on 1st February 2022 to look into the lingering issues that have largely caused the Nigeria ASUU strike and resolve them, has not bothered to set up a single meeting even up till date.
‘NEC was equally disappointed that ASUU’s only meeting with the Professor Nimi Briggs-led Renegotiation Committee did not reflect the expected level of understanding, preparation and clarity that undergird collective bargaining going by the Committee’s confession of ‘going about consulting stakeholders’.
Unless urgent steps are taken to redirect the Committee on concluding a draft Agreement that has been pending since May 2021, its activities may end up as another wild goose chase,’ it further stated.
The statement also expressed the shock of the Union that even though public universities have been closed for three months, the political class have been busy paying for Expression of Interest and Nomination forms worth several millions of naira in preparation for the 2023 election.
They also condemned the planned overseas trip organized by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities Spouses (CVCNUS), describing it as despicable, insensitive, provocative and a waste of scarce resources of Nigerian universities, especially at this time when lecturers have not been paid their salaries for daring to struggle to improve the lot of public universities.
Even though the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has promised to address the issues leading to the Nigeria ASUU strike, the union is yet to receive any notice of meeting from his Ministry.
Recall that part of ASUU’s demands include the release of earned allowances for university lecturers, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement and release of revitalization funds for universities.