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ASUU declares nationwide strike, NANS set to protest

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On Monday, the Academic Staff Union of Universities began a four-week strike following the Federal Government’s failure to meet its demands.

The National President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed this during a press conference at the University of Lagos, Akoka, after the union’s National Executive Committee meeting, which started on Friday.

Osodeke said since the last meeting the union  had with the Federal Government in December 2021, it had not received any formal invitation from government.

As such, Osodeke said NEC resolved to embark on “a four week-roll-over total and comprehensive strike action” beginning from Monday (yesterday).

ASUU’s declaration, however, attracted different reactions with some state governments advising lecturers in their universities against joining the strike.

The state governments  said the trade dispute was between the Federal Government and ASUU, adding that they did not sign any agreement with the union.

But the ASUU president at the press conference in Lagos justified the decision to commence an immediate strike action.

He stated, “Considering that the government has failed to fully implement the Memorandum of Action it signed with the ASUU on December 23, 2020; given that the draft report of the renegotiated 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement has been submitted for finalisation for more than nine months; and noting that the forceful payment of ASUU members’ salaries and emoluments with the integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and non-adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution have continued to short-change our members, NEC resolved to embark on a four-week roll-over total and comprehensive strike action beginning from Monday, 14th February 2022.”

He stressed that the union did not disrupting academic activities on campuses, saying due to government’s lackadaisical attitudes, the lecturers  had no choice but to declare the strike.

Osodeke said, “Comrades and compatriots, it was a painful decision for NEC to arrive at the roll-over strike option. Contrary to the views canvassed in some quarters, our union loathes to disrupt academic activities on our campuses. We love our students and respect their parents and guardians. We are also not insensitive to the genuine concerns about stable academic calendar in public universities expressed by patriotic Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria. But the blame should be squarely put at the doorsteps of those who are ignored our patriotic yearnings for a development-oriented education in Nigeria.

“The patience of our members has been taxed beyond tolerable limits. We therefore seek the understanding and support of all stakeholders to make Nigerian government more responsive to issues of human capital development including health and education.”

The union berated government non-implementation of FGN/ASUU 2009 Memorandum of Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding.

Osodeke said 13 years after the agreement was signed, its provisions were only partially implemented while the conditions of service of academic staff, funding and autonomy continued to be eroded in all campuses.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students on Monday condemned the strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

NANS President, Asefon Sunday, in a statement, expressed “great disappointment” at the “comprehensive and total” four-week strike declared by ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, on Monday.

Asefon slammed the Federal Government and the ASUU leadership for failure to resolve their issues amicably without resort to strike.

He also said Nigerian students will stage a nationwide protest to demonstrate their dissatisfaction.

Osodeke at a press conference on Monday said ASUU National Executive Council resolved to embark on the strike as the government has failed to implement the Memorandum of Action it signed with the ASUU in December 2020.

But in the statement titled, ‘ASUU Warning Strike: A Reckless Irresponsibility’, signed by the NANS President, Asefon said, “We have received the news of the decision of ASUU to embark on a month warning strike with great disappointment. We have thought ASUU and FG represented by top executives would allow reason to prevail, reached compromise, act responsibly in the interest of the education sector and indeed Nigeria, to do all that is required to responsibly avert this avoidable strike.

“We are appalled by the impunity, recklessness, and irresponsibility the managers of this negotiation from both sides of the table has managed the fragile situation allowing it to degenerate to the level of industrial action. We are therefore compelled to believe that negotiators from both sides acted so irresponsibly because of their apathy of the interest and welfare of the major stakeholder of the sector(students) during the negotiations.

“I passionately appeal to all students leaders, NANS structures, and organs across the nation to mobilize to our national non-elective congress on the 17th of February where far-reaching decisions shall be made on our collective response to this blatant lack of patriotism, human feelings, and feelings for the collective future of education in Nigeria.

“Our decisions shall be decisive, collective, and irreversible until the strike is called off. We shall fight this impunity and recklessness without any consideration other than an immediate end to this strike.

“We, therefore, inform the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, to expect us in our numbers, and ASUU should be ready to return to the table to end this avoidable, reckless and repugnant strike. Let me assure the Minister of Labour that our protest in his office today is introductory and child play in what is yet to come. We are resolute more than before to ensure we hold government, especially the ministry of labour responsible for these incessant strike actions.

“Further negotiations should as a matter of urgency have students representative as part of the parties to allow balance in decisions that are capable of impairing the lives of students and derailing their progress. The contentions and issues are triangular and must be treated so, going forward.”

ASUU had embarked on a nine-month-long strike in 2020 and called it off after a lot of foot-dragging by both the government and the lecturers.

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