Strike: No retreat, no surrender —ASUU


Universities (ASUU), Dr Nasir Fagge, on Thursday vowed that ASUU would continue its on-going strike until the union’s demands were met by the Federal Government.
Fagge made the declaration while addressing newsmen at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) on the latest development on the strike.
“I wish to state clearly our position so far in the whole process of the negotiations with government since the strike commenced.
“We are currently calling on government to meet our demands as presented in the agreements we both signed in 2009 and then we can start talking about any other form of re-negotiation.
“A lot of people are asking us to shift grounds by accepting government’s offer of N30 billion and going back to class while we reach an agreement on when the next instalments will be paid.
“I do not see that as being acceptable to us for now because we had made that mistake before, whereby only the salary component of the agreement was singled out and so we cannot afford to make such a mistake again.
“I want to make it categorically clear that until this whole agreement is fully implemented, we are not going to call off this strike,’’ he stated.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that university lecturers had on June 30, embarked on what they described as a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike in public universities across the country.
It will be recalled that members of the union had before now, been holding deliberations with representatives of government, headed by Gov. Gabriel Suswam of Benue on ways of resolving the strike.
Fagge explained that both government and ASUU had presented their demands in 2006 and after three years of negotiations, the parties succeeded in reaching an agreement in 2009.
According to the ASUU leader, agreements are not negotiable and that is why the union is insisting on the implementation of the agreements.
He said that members of the union were determined to prosecute the strike to its logical conclusion.
Fagge, however, regretted that contrary to subsisting operational procedures, about 75 per cent of the fund meant for the revitalisation of the universities were not going to be released directly to the union.
He said that the Suswam led-committee planned to hand it over to the National Universities Commission for implementation, adding that this was “unacceptable”.
“Until and unless the Suswam committee gives the union a guarantee that it will not serve as another means of recycling TETFUND money or divert funds meant for universities, ASUU representatives will not continue to participate in the deliberation of the committee.”
He said further that revitalisation of infrastructure in the country’s universities was another key issue that needed immediate attention if the country intended to produce world-class graduates who would be presented as future leaders.
Fagge frowned at the desperation of some vice-chancellors who had undermined the on-going efforts by the union to attract sustainable funding to support the operations of the universities.
“Some examinations are being conducted under situations that undermine their credibility.
“The conduct of final degree examinations outside the campuses at UNILAG and the Lagos State University (LASU) with improper invigilation under policemen cover, casts serious doubts on the authenticity of such examination.
“The same goes for post-UTME, so far held in some universities.
“We want to appeal to our vice-chancellors to cease from further eroding the credibility of the academic profession which the iconic status of their offices represents.”

FG meets with varsity councils, VCs today
The Federal Government will today (Friday) meet with the Chairmen of Governing Councils and Vice-chancellors of Universities as part of efforts to resolve the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The meeting which is at the instance of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, according to sources is to update them on some of the decisions reached with the union and the disbursement of the N30 billion offered ASUU as academic earned allowance.
ASUU has however, accused the Federal Government of not being ready to fund education.
The union particularly, accused the co-coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of being the stumbling block in the process of negotiation.
In a document circulated by the union in Abuja on Thursday, ASUU wondered why the same Okonjo-Iweala who paid the sum of N1.6 trillion to Paris Club of Creditors in 2005, would now say that government has no money to pay lecturers their entitlements.
However, on today’s meeting, the Chairman of implementation committee of the Federal government NEEDs Assessment to Nigerian Universities report, Governor Gabriel Suswam had told newsmen in Abuja the meeting with governing councils and vice-chancellors would enable the government brief them on some of the decisions taken.
The Benue State governor had explained that issues surrounding the NEEDS assessment had been concluded to some extent, while those bordering on the earned allowance component being handled by the SGF were pending.
The Federal Government had on Monday offered N30bn to assist the various Councils of Nigerian Universities pay the earned allowances, which is about N87 billion.
He said: “There is also N100bn and that is why  the Minister of Finance, the SGF, the  ministers of education and  labour as well as the Chief of Staff, the VP and myself  have just risen from a meeting to take some decisions that would end the strike  soon.
“The President has instructed us on what to do and he has shown a lot of commitments by starting a project worth about N100bn in all the universities in about 61 universities in the country.
“So we are hoping that we will be able to see the end of the strike very soon if at the end of the day, ASUU is satisfied with the measures that we have so far taken.
“The Federal Government will also be meeting with the university councils and vice-chancellors of our universities within the week towards updating them on some of the decisions taken.”
According to Suswam, the meeting with the varsity councils was necessary because earned allowances had to be certified by the management and councils of the universities.
He said since the Federal Government had offered to assist the councils with N30bn, it was important for them to go and verify and pay the people who are actually entitled to the allowances.

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