A nationwide strike may be underway in public universities as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has given the Federal government’ a three-week ultimatum to address all issues in the December 2020 Agreement.
Speaking with reporters in Abuja on Monday, ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, warned that the union might be compelled to embark on another nationwide strike should the government fail to implement the Memorandum of Action signed with ASUU prior to the suspension of the last industrial action.
He lamented that despite its meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige on 14th October 2021, on the major outstanding issues including funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in IPPIS payment, the issues are still lingering.
ASUU also warned heads of universities against trading in honorary degrees and smearing the integrity of the tertiary institutions.
The union also distanced itself from its branch in the Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Imo State, which endorsed the promotion of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami to a professor of cybersecurity by the university’s authority.
There has been a public outcry over what has been described as an irregular promotion, but the ASUU in Pantami’s own alma mater, The Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), had berated the ASUU-FUTO for endorsing the illegality. It also dissociated its members from a letter of congratulations sent to Pantami by the school’s Vice Chancellor.
Osodeke’s words: “ASUU is fully committed to upholding academic integrity in our universities and working to make them more globally competitive. We are equally committed to promoting industrial harmony in the Nigerian University System for as long as all stakeholders are willing and committed to play their parts.
“We call on all Vice-Chancellors, as the main drivers of the system, to join us in this mission to safeguard the waning image of our universities. They have no business trading honorary degrees and academic positions for personal and immediate gains; thereby smearing the collective integrity of committed scholars and other patriots who are working day and night to uplift the system that produced them.
“Our union shall not shy away from taking the fight to administrators of Nigerian universities as well as internal and external agents who are and external agents who are bent on compromising the standard ASUU has consistently laboured to protect and improve.
“Finally, we call on all patriotic Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria to prevail on the federal and state governments to act fast to prevent another round of industrial crisis in Nigeria’s public universities.
“It is painful that our Union may soon have no other way of securing the implementation of FGN-ASUU collectively bargained agreements and redressing the criminal neglect of welfare issues of our members by State Governors. Governments of
Nigerian should be held responsible should ASUU be forced to activate the strike it patriotically suspended.”
On Pantami, he said, “The controversy this appointment has generated is unprecedented in the recent history of Nigerian universities. Indeed, it has generated passionate comments and responses from individuals and groups within and outside the nation…
“The controversy centres on the perceived roles played by the University administration in the alleged fraudulent appointment, and the subsequent seeming endorsement by the ASUU branch at FUTO. Consequently, some media commentators – print electronic and social have impugned that the national body of ASUU was in agreement with the position of ASUU FUTO Branch on the said appointment.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth. ASUU, as a Union has never supported, promoted or endorsed any illegal appointment or promotion of academics in any Nigerian University, including those of its members. As a Union, we have always insisted on strict adherence to due process and the rule of law in all aspects of university administration and governance.”
He announced that National ASUU has rejected rejected the ASUU-FUTO Committee’s report and set up an independent committee to investigate all issues surrounding the controversial appointment of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami).
“Thereafter, the position of ASUU-NEC shall be made known to the public. In addition, another committee shall visit the ASUU-FUTO branch with a view to determining the role of members in the controversial appointment and report back to NEC for further action,” he said.