David Arin – The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the Federal Government of deliberate attempts to deprive Nigerian youths of access to qualitative education.
The Union in a statement issued on Wednesday and jointly signed by Kano University of Science and Technology, chapter Chairman, Muhammad Sani Gaya and Secretary, Murtala Muhammad, said the body language and antics of the government were indications that it was out to completely destroy tertiary education in the country.
“We are prepared and determined to continue enduring the torture and negative media campaign against our struggle in order to liberate ourselves, the young and upcoming generations of Nigerians from the deliberate efforts to deny them access to quality and affordable education.
“Indeed, education is the only weapon that can change society, denying our youth education is akin to destroying the nation. The intention of the FG to destroy university education in Nigeria should be vehemently resisted”, the statement said.
According to ASUU, the use of hunger to coerce members of ASUU to suspend its indefinite strike has failed in the past and definitely will not yield any fruitful result now.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the union is resolute, determined, focused and ready to continue the struggle in order to salvage the Nigerian public universities from imminent collapse.
“Unfortunately, the FG is blessed with enough wrong people at the right places. Irritably, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, is badly informed of the university system and dilettante with the primary duties of an academic staff.
“The public may note that based on laws establishing universities, an academic staff is employed to teach, conduct research and render community service. So, when ASUU embarked on strike, only the teaching component stopped, thus, the issue of imposing “no work no pay” doesn’t rightly and legally apply to academic staff”, ASUU added.
Lecturers of the Federal Government owned universities had embarked on strike since February 14, 2022, to demand release of revitalisation funds for universities; deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System (UTAS) for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers; release of earned allowances; the release of the white paper report of the visitation panels to universities and other issues involving the ASUU-FGN 2009 agreement.
Shortly after the commencement of the strike, other university-based unions, including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and other allied educational institutions also embarked on strike to push their demands.
In a bid to end the strike, the government had set up a negotiation team led by the Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University of Lokoja, Nimi Briggs, to look into negotiations with the unions.
Though, SSANU, NASU and NAAT had suspended their strike actions, the negotiations between the government and ASUU had stalled over backlog salaries.
While ASUU insisted on the payment of the backlog salaries of members, the Federal Government on its part had maintained a policy of ‘No Work, No Pay’.
Meanwhile, members of NASU and SSANU, University of Lagos branch, on Wednesday, protested against the sudden suspension of its strike by their executives.
The aggrieved members said they were not duly carried along by their leaders before the strike was suspended last Saturday.
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU embarked on a National Industrial Action on March 27, 2022.
While the two Unions suspended its strike on Saturday, August 20, 2022, it also directed its members to resume work on Wednesday, 24th August.
However, UNILAG branch members took to protest against the suspension of the strike on Wednesday, displaying placards with various inscriptions, ‘We are tired of general secretary Adeyemi Peters and Mohammed Ibrahim of SSANU, they must go!’, ‘We are not civil servants.’
Sime of the protesters, who spoke with newsmen, said they were not consulted, adding that a congress was supposed to be held before the suspension of the strike.
A former chairman of SSANU, UNILAG, Oriwaye Adefolalu, said JAC of SSANU and NASU goofed by calling off the strike they embarked upon, towards pressurising Federal Government to perform its constitutional duties, without carrying along their members at their respective branches.
He said, “I am not the kind of person that can deceive you, records are there, the incumbent leadership of SSANU is not truthful. Initially, I thought they didn’t know what they were doing, but they do.
“All they are after is their personal gain. The situation is getting worse every moment. I am 100% convinced that the suspension of the strike was stage-managed by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to save his job. What Adamu did was brain washing and greasing of their hands.”