ASUU pushes strike decision to branches

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has thrown the decision to embark on a fresh strike to its branches, following the expiration of its three week ultimatum which expired on Sunday.

The union, after a meeting with its leadership on Sunday, directed its branches in the various public universities to meet within the next two weeks and reach a decision after reviewing the progress of Federal Government’s interventions.

“We met yesterday (on Sunday) and reached out to our branches; they will meet and direct us on what to do. The branches will meet within the next two weeks,” President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke told The Nation.

But, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said government was addressing the demands of the lecturers.

The minister said the N22.127 billion earned academic allowance was being processed, adding that the money will hit the accounts of the four university – based unions this week.

The unions include: the Non-academic staff union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) and ASUU.

Ngige said: “The money is there like I kept on telling them. It is being processed. I am hopeful that within the week the money will start hitting the various universities accounts.

“The N30 billion revitalisation fund has been processed; government has finished the payment of the N30 billion according to the information given to me from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

“The N30 billion has been with the Central Bank of Nigeria Needs assessment account; that is where the disbursement is coming from. The money has been there for six months.

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“It is the Earned Academic Allowance that is coming out from the 2021 supplementary budget. The minister has approved it and it is being disbursed as we speak. The money is not only for ASUU but for all the university based – unions.”

Speaking on the progress made so far in deploying the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), the minister said: “I am going to summon a meeting of the committee before the end of the week to tell us what they have done.”

But, Osodeke expressed doubts about the promise made by the minister on UTAS.

He said: “On the UTAS, as far back as early October, the NITDA told us that they had finished that they will submit their report by the end of October so that they can look at it. Now the government is telling us a committee is working on it which means that they are not telling us the truth.

“The minister was the one who convened the meeting where they told us that by the end of October they will submit the report.”

The ASUU president also lamented the lack of progress in the signing of the renegotiated 2009 agreement concluded in May this year.

Osodoke said government has refused to get back to the union regarding the implementation of the 2009 agreement reached in May.

He said: “The major issue for us is the re-negotiation of 2009 agreement. We have finished negotiation. It is for the government to look at the issues involved and then tell us if they agree or disagree and which issue do they disagree with. Since May they have not responded back to us. That is the most important thing to us.

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“A professor in Nigerian university earn less than $700 meanwhile outside the country they earn between $5, 000 – $10, 000. What we are going to see in the next four or five years is that the best brains will move away. To us that is the most important issue at stake; so that we can retain our good professors and we have a good university that can be attractive to people all over the world.

“In May this year, we concluded the renegotiation and agreed so they took the document to present to the government to seek permission to sign. Since May they have not got back to us. They have not talked to us since May.”

Some of the demands include: funding for the revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances (EAA); payment of outstanding promotion arrears; renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement; inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) payment; approval of University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), amongst others.

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