The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has given some conditions to be met before they suspend the strike embarked upon on March 23, 2023.
ASUU said it will suspend the strike if the Federal Government pays their withheld salaries and completes the negotiations of what led to the strike. The union accused the government of trying to use hunger – a weapon of war, to suppress its members.
The disclosure was made by ASUU’s Zonal Coordinator, Prof Ade Adejumo, while speaking with Newsmen at the University of Ibadan on Wednesday, in the company of Professor Moyo Ajao; Professor Ayo Akinwole, Ibadan; Dr. Femi Abanikannda from the University of Osun; Dr. Dauda Adesola from Kwara State; and Prof Olusiji Showande from Lagos State.
ASUU said despite the length of time it gave the Federal Government to see reasons, they failed to utilize it.
Adejumo said, “We are ready to suspend the strike if the government pays our withheld salaries and completes the negotiations that led to the strike. Our children too are tired of staying at home, but we cannot work on empty stomachs while politicians’ homes and warehouses are filled with palliative materials that they don’t even need.”
“Government is using hunger to suppress us. Rather than for Government to utilize the opportunity of the lockdown to address our grievances, it was during that lockdown that our salaries were stopped, so that our members could die of hunger in their various homes. It took a high level of intervention before our members were paid amputated salaries for three months, after which the Government resorted to blackmail by whipping sentiments against us while taking our members as enemies deserving of starvation.”
“The intellectuals are citizens, not enemies but the Government appears to have declared war on us using the weapon used during the war against adversaries – hunger. Some people have been wondering why ASUU is on strike again. The simple answer is that ASUU is on strike because of the survival of the university system, where many of us still have our children as students since we cannot afford to sponsor our children abroad with our measly salaries as politicians do.”
“ASUU is on strike in order to restore the past glory of public universities and address the infrastructural decay and deficit in our institutions. ASUU is on strike for the legitimate dues of its members who are the least paid in the tertiary education sub-sector. For the sake of emphasis, the truth that will shock many Nigerians, which is available for verification, is that Chief Lecturers in some tertiary institutions, who are not required to supervise postgraduate students or conduct research, earn more than professors in our lopsided education system.”
ASUU said there is nothing new they are demanding from the politicians in government than for them to honor their own agreements with the union. It recalled how the government agreed to inject funds to revitalize our universities in 2019 and nothing has been done about it till this moment.
The Union also corroborated the earlier stance of its National President, Comrade Biodun Ogunyemi, that the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) is a distraction to the union.
It said, “Apart from IPPIS being a cesspool of corruption as many Nigerians who are at its receiving end have attested to; there is no serious-minded country in the world where university lecturers and intellectual assets of the country are lumped together in payment with the civil service. We raised this point of order when the system was introduced and there was a joint team constituted to work things out.”
“The alternative, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) that we developed, and which has been successfully demonstrated at least three times to the satisfaction of government, is still being subjected to an unending process of integrity tests. We are being played around like ping pong, as Government keeps approbating and reprobating at the same time.”
Going further, the union stated that IPPIS is a violation of the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003 (also known as the Universities Autonomy Act No 1 2007 (as amended)) which the National Assembly signed into law on July 30, 2003, and subsequently gazetted by the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette Number 10, Volume 94 of January 12, 2007.
What you should know
ASUU embarked on a nationwide industrial action on March 23, 2020, following its dispute with the Federal Government over their insistence on the implementation of the IPPIS in the payment of University lecturers’ salaries and allowances, as against the ASUU-developed homegrown payment platform, UTAS, which they believe guarantees the autonomy of the university.
The Minister for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had hinted that ASUU would soon suspend its strike, following efforts by the Ministries of Finance, Education, Labour and Employment, and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to meet with ASUU and resolve the disagreement on the controversial IPPIS.