The Academic Staff Union of Universities has flayed what it described as an attempt by some government officials including the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono to discredit the 2021 draft agreement which the Federal Government reached with the union, saying that such antics would not work.
The Union particularly accused the minister and the permanent secretary of working to undermine the agreement which it said was the most important aspect of the MoA it signed with the government in 2020.
Speaking at a press conference in Jos on Tuesday, the Coordinator of the Bauchi Zonal branch of ASUU, Prof. Lawal Abubakar said “ASUU members Nationwide are ready to do everything legitimately and lawfully possible including losing the last drop of their blood to safeguard it, get it signed and totally implemented.
“ASUU will not allow anyone including Mr Echono to scuttle this draft agreement while at the same time eating fat on the product of the Union’s struggle. Being a Board member of TetFund, a product of ASUU struggle, he has cornered a Federal University that is solely funded by TetFund and NEEDS Assessment to his community.
The ASUU leader also said that the union took exception to the statement credited to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige in the media that the Federal Government had made a lot of progress in the implementation of the MoA since it has paid the N30bn Revitalisation Fund and the N12.127bn Earned Allowance, describing it as false.
“Which promise have they kept? Is the MoA just about Earned Academic Allowance or do you think by throwing money that is rightly ours, we would forget the other aspect of the MoA?” he queried.
Abubakar who was represented by the Immediate past Bauchi Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Professor Nanmwa Voncir lamented that the Federal Government was conniving with the state governments to kill University education in the country through the proliferation of higher institutions without adequate funding.
According to him, “The only reason why the Federal Government has failed to stop the state governments from establishing new universities when the existing ones are grossly underfunded is that it is guilty of the same offence in addition to the pecuniary gains which those responsible are making.”
The ASUU Coordinator noted that the pending issues from the FGN-ASUU 2020 Memorandum of Action included renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement, the need for the deployment of the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution, Funding for revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, as well as salary omissions, underpayments among other irregularities.
The Coordinator said that the Union was compelled to bring the issues to the public domain because more than one year after suspending the 2020 strike, the government had made little or no progress towards addressing them.
He pointed out that ASUU had already activated its process of resuming the conditionally suspended strike immediately after the expiration of the three weeks ultimatum at its NEC meeting in Abuja between November 13 and 14, 2021.
According to him, “If the problem escalates, Nigerians should hold the Federal Government responsible. That is why we are begging well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to avert another round of strike by meeting our demands in the interest of University education in the country.”