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How FG cause ongoing ASUU industrial action

By Esther Kalu

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has disclosed that the Federal Government’s provocative indifference over the years was responsible for the inability to end ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the varsity lecturers.

ASUU noted that all efforts to ensure that the crisis end and the Nigerian public varsities calendar continue to operate without any interference from the central government have continued to prove abortive across the country.

The striking lecturers noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide deployed to address the worker’s demands have a different body language as against what the president has continuously exhibited.

They claimed that all solutions that could bring industrial harmony have been adopted and made available to the government but none has been implemented for the development of tertiary institutions across the country.

It explained that the Munzali Jibril-led renegotiation committee, which the entire members were aware of their zeal to end the lingering face-off, submitted the first Draft Agreement in May 2021 but the government’s official response did not come until about one year later.

The lecturers said that the award of salary came in a manner of take-it-or-leave-it on a sheet of paper and that no serious country in the world treats their scholars this way.

The President of the association, Emmanuel Osodeke, disclosed that at the commencement of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement on 16th March 2017, both the Federal Government and ASUU Teams agreed to be guided by the principle of bargaining.

He said that the government’s move to set aside the principle of collective bargaining, which is globally in practice, has the potential of damaging lecturers’ psyche and destroying commitment to the university system.

According to him, over the years, particularly since 1992, the Union has always argued for and negotiated a separate salary structure for academics and does not accept any awarded salary as was the case in the administration of Abdulsalam Abubakar.

Osodeke, through a statement released on Thursday, in Abuja stated that the major reason given by the Federal Government for salary award is not tenable.

“This is because of several reasons chief of which is poor management of the economy. This has given rise to leakages in the revenue of governments at all levels. There is wasteful spending, misappropriation of fund, and outright stealing of our collective patrimony.

“ASUU believes that if the leakages in the management of the country’s resources are stopped, there will be more than enough to meet the nation’s revenue and expenditure targets without borrowing and plunging the country into a debt crisis as is the case now,” he said.

The President said that the New Draft Agreement has other major recommendations for the funding of major components of the renegotiated 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.

He added that one of such recommendations is the tax on cellphone and communication lines and that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning recently announced its readiness to implement ASUU’s recommendation, as a revenue source, but not for education, without acknowledging the Union.

The ASUU boss further urged the Federal Government to return to the New Draft Agreement of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Renegotiation Committee whose work spanned a total of five and half years as a demonstration of good faith.

According to the statement: “At the resumed meeting of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) 2009 Agreement Re-negotiation Committee on Tuesday, 16th August, 2022, the Government Team presented an “Award” of a Recommended Consolidated University Academic Salary Structure (CONUASS) prepared by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to ASUU. ASUU firmly rejected and still rejects the “Award”.

“Rejecting a salary package arrived at through collective bargaining is a repudiation of government’s pronouncements on reversing “brain drain”. It is common knowledge that, more now than in the 1980s and 1990s, Nigerian scholars, especially in scarce areas like science and medicine, are migrating in droves to Europe, America and many parts of Africa such as South Africa, Rwanda, and Ghana with supportive environment to ply their trades as well as competitive reward systems for intellectual efforts. Does the Nigerian government care about what becomes of public universities in another five or ten years if this trend continues?”

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