The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on Federal government to fulfil its side of agreement or face strike action.
The National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
According to him, no meaningful development will be achieved if government fails to put issues concerning education in the front burner for global reckoning and competitiveness.
Ogunyemi said reneging on agreements the government willfully entered into with ASUU had remained a major setback to the union’s efforts in taking the system to its deserved height.
He stated that just like the Nigeria Labour Congress would not be held responsible for any action it may take, should government failed to do the needful.
“We are very saddened at the way government is handling the various agreements and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it has entered into with us.
“We have remained focused and committed on our part to ensure that we keep our own side of the bargain, just as we have equally been patient.
“Now, in the face of all this, we still discover that government seems not bother about what might happen, and that is why we are stating categorically that we will not hesitate to take necessary action to get government to understand us in our struggle to revitalise our universities.
“It is on this premise that we are calling on government to take immediate and active steps to restore the much needed sanity in our university system as well as the process of renegotiation with the union, to avert any possible act that could disrupt the academic calendar of Nigerian universities.
“NLC had been calling on government to improve the wages of Nigerian workers, having reached several agreements with it, which he said, is similar to that of ASUU.”
ASUU Rejects Fed Govt’s N20b
Its members say the money should have been released last October and by now the union and the government ought to be renegotiating the FGN-ASUU 2009 agreement.
The Lagos Zone of the Union on Tuesday described the release of the funds as blackmail.
At a press briefing at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Tuesday, Zonal Coordinator, Prof Olusiji Sowande, also called on the government to disband the Dr Wale Babalakin-led renegotiation committee with a less ‘fixated’ leader.
Sowande said the money was part of the N1.3 trillion both parties agreed should be invested in upgrading facilities in public universities within six years. He however expressed disappointment that the amount disbursed was not up to N220 billion since 2013.
“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 ASUU.
“Government releases are usually made to the benefiting universities. 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,” he said.
Sowande also expressed disappointment that the government led the union on after suspending its strike last September with the impression that it would renegotiate the agreement immediately.
He said: “Over a long period of 14 months that we participated in the renegotiation, there has been no meaningful progress made, and this was principally due to the disposition of the leader of the government team, Dr. Wale Babalakin. His autocratic habit of imposing his views on the renegotiation committee was a serious clog in the wheel of progress of the renegotiation process.
“With this attitude, which is against the principle of collective bargaining, it was impossible to build on the gains of previous agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and MoA with Nigerian government, in order to arrive at a mutually agreed path of repositioning the Nigerian university system for global reckoning and competitiveness.”
Sowande warned that the Union’s patience was wearing thin and called on well-meaning Nigerians to urge the government to fulfill its promises or else the union would down tools.
“Our union should not be held responsible for any avoidable disruption of academic and other activities in the Nigerian public universities if government fails to honour its words,” he said.