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ASUU may go on strike over FG’s refusal to meet union’s demands

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National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke

There are fears that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may embark on another round of industrial action following government’s refusal to honour its agreement with the union.

The university teachers had last year downed tools for over nine months in protest against: their forced enrolment on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS); Federal Government’s failure to honour its Memorandum of Action (MoA) with ASUU; non-payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA); and inadequate funding of tertiary institutions.

The union had refused to enrol on the IPPIS, insisting it negates the principle of university autonomy. It consequently came up with an alternative payment platform called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

ASUU stated that the new initiative was a web-based enterprise resource planning application deployed for the overall management of university resources in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner.

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The body stressed that the conceptualisation of UTAS was a “concrete attestation to the capacity of Nigerian scholars and researchers to respond to the country’s developmental challenges when tasked to provide solutions.”

The labour minister, Chris Ngige, had assured that UTAS would be subjected to an integrity test. He said the payment platform would be sent to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) for testing, and from there, to the office of the National Security Adviser for a second look.

But ASUU lamented that seven months after suspending its strike, government has failed to honour its agreement with the union.

National president, Emmanuel Osodeke, told The Guardian that the strike, which was to press home their demands for the survival of the nation’s public university system, was suspended in December 2020 after both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on various issues providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items.

He disclosed that the salaries of members withheld in the wake of the strike for not enrolling on IPPIS were yet to be paid.

Osodeke, who was not categorical on when the strike would commence, said the National Executive Council of ASUU would be meeting in August to review the situation and decide the next line of action.

He said there was no response from NITDA on UTAS and that government was not keen on fresh negotiation with the union.

The ASUU chief said there was no seriousness on the part of the Federal Government concerning the issues raised by the union.

He said: “Given the glaring and deliberate failure of the government to honour the agreement it willingly signed with the union, it is becoming obvious that industrial harmony is gradually being destroyed in the university campuses.

“We therefore call on well-meaning Nigerians to wake up government from its slumber to avoid another disruption of academic activities on university campuses across the nation.”

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