Why strike lingers -ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of  Universities (ASUU) has said that their disagreement with the federal government persists because government’s uncompromising attitude towards their demands.A press release signed by ASUU chairman, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, and made available to Blueprint Sunday said the union had shifted positions in some respects, for instance, they had reduced their demand of one tranche  of N220bn of the outstanding revitalisation fund by 50 per cent, even as they had also agreed that N30bn out of the so far verified arrears of N40bn of the earned academic allowances (EAA) be paid to their members while the balance of N10bn could be spread over the next two tranches. “We were equally making steady progress on other issues. What has stalled meaningful dialogue was government’s insistence that payment of the withheld salaries and other entitlements of our members would only be effected through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). 

“In closing the meeting between the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government team last Wednesday, 4th November, 2020, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, promised to send to the Union government’s written position on ASUU’s response to their initial offer. “He said all concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) would be consulted on Friday, 6th November, for their inputs into government’s new position,” the release reads in part.Ogunyemi therefore, begged Nigerians to bear with ASUU  as they are  fighting their battle. “Our Union is struggling to ensure that the children of the poor, who cannot afford the prohibitive cost paid in private universities or do not have opportunities to study outside Nigeria, get quality education which is not priced beyond their reach. This will only happen when government adequately funds public universities and addresses the rot and decay in them.”

Ogunyemi said government was punishing university teachers because they had rejected IPPIS, which was imposed on the universities against the provisions of the law on autonomy and universal practices.According to the release, ASUU is at the final stage of the integrity test of the Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). 
“UTAS was developed locally by ASUU members, unlike IPPIS which was engineered by the World Bank. “UTAS has been presented to the Minister of Education and senior management staff of the Ministry, the President and leadership of Senate, and the Office of the Accountant-General where NITDA and Office of the National Security Adviser and other MDAs were fully represented.”On November 5, 2020, the National Universities Commission (NUC), he said,  facilitated the presentation of UTAS to Vice Chancellors and Bursars of federal universities. All questions raised at the four levels of presentation of UTAS were satisfactorily answered. With the full cooperation of the concerned agencies, even as the final test with NITDA could be completed as a matter of days and UTAS adopted in place of IPPIS in our universities. 

 ASUU chair said the claim by government that the platform used in paying their members’ salaries before the imposition of IPPIS had been dismantled was not true stressing that  some of their members who had not enrolled on IPPIS were paid part of their withheld salaries last week, but, in furtherance of the attack on ASUU, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) had illegally seized all the deducted union check-off dues of our members in the last nine months.  He therefore, urged government to release all what is due ASUU members and the union without the conditionality of IPPIS, to enable them conclude on the outstanding five demands (revitalisation, EAA, renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement, inauguration of the Visitation Panels, proliferation of state universities and governance issues in them) of the Union to pave way for the quick resolution of the lingering crisis.

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