The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has challenged the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, to mention any of the things done by the Federal Government to bring to an end the ongoing strike embarked upon by the union or the amount of money released so far since the industrial action started.
The reaction by the union follows a recent interview granted by Keyamo where he said the Federal Government cannot go and borrow N1.2 trillion yearly to meet the financial demands of ASUU, saying the government had done all within its power to end the strike.
According to Punch, the feelings of ASUU was made known by its National President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, during an interview where he expressed disappointment at the claims of the minister.
Osodeke, who revealed that the Federal Government has not released one kobo since the commencement of the strike, accused Keyamo of completely misinforming the public.
What the ASUU President is saying
Osodeke during the interview said, “When I listened to him yesterday, I felt very disappointed. We are in a country where someone who has risen in the legal profession can come out to completely misinform the public. It is so sad and I feel so pained.
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“We are challenging him to mention one of the things the government has done on all the issues that led to the strike. How much has been released for the revitalisation fund for universities? How much has been released for the payment of the earned academic allowances? Has the visitation panel report been released? This is a demand that does not even have to do with money.’’
Going further the ASUU President said, “Have they signed the agreement that was negotiated between their team and ASUU? On the issue of IPPIS and UTAS, have the results been made available? These are the questions Nigerians have to ask them. The demands that don’t have to do with money, have they met those demands?
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“I am so disappointed. This is someone who was on the street fighting for the poor Nigerians until he joined politics. This same man has turned around to fight the Nigerian people. We challenge him to tell the Nigerian people what the government has done concerning the seven demands that were listed. It is so sad, and that is why Nigeria is where it is today.
“These people do not have the interest of Nigerians at heart. Nigeria is battling all manner of things. Insecurity, education is on lockdown. They have not released one kobo, I’m saying this with all due respect. The government has not released one kobo to any university since the strike started, but you are giving N1.14 billion worth of vehicles to government officials in the Niger Republic.
“You know why they don’t believe in Nigerians. If their children were to be in our schools, they would have done something”.
What you should know
- Recall that on Friday, August 5, 2022, Keyamo while appearing on a Channels Television programme, Politics Today, said it was unrealistic for the Federal Government to borrow N1.2 trillion in order to end the almost 6 months strike embarked upon by ASUU.
- He said, “Should we go and borrow to pay N1.2 trillion yearly?
- “You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion. And you have roads to build, health centres to build, other sectors to take care of.”
- ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on a 4-week total and comprehensive strike to press home their unresolved demands on the federal government.
- Some of the lecturers’ demands include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances, and adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a preferred payment option, instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and payment of promotion arrears.
- Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement and the resolution of inconsistencies in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
- ASUU on May 9, further extended its ongoing strike by another 12 weeks to give the government enough time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues after an extension on March 14 due to an alleged lack of seriousness on the part of the federal government.
- President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 19 directed the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to proffer a solution to the challenge and report back to him in 2 weeks.
- However, ASUU remained adamant in its resolve to press on with its demand as it once again on August 1 extended its ongoing strike by another 4 weeks to give the Federal Government more time to resolve outstanding issues in its dispute with it