FG says hands clean on ASUU’s ‘unfortunate’ strike
• Sign re-negotiated agreement with lecturers immediately, NLC warns govt
• Pantami declines comment on alleged illegal professorship
• Academic activities paralysed at UI, LAUTECH, others
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, yesterday, absolved Federal Government of blame on the four-week strike embarked upon by Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), accusing the lecturers of downing tools at a time government was attending to their demands.
Adamu, who spoke after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said: “Unfortunately, they have gone on strike and I am looking for them because all the issues are being addressed. The last thing that happened was that our committee looked at their demands. But there are re-negotiations going on. They submitted a draft agreement, which the ministry is looking at.”
He added: “We want a peaceful resolution. The Federal Government is ready to meet them on all issues they have raised and if there are so many meetings and the gap is not closing, I think it’s not the fault of the government.
“There is a solution to this. The negotiations are the solution, and that is why I have said that I am surprised that ASUU has gone on strike.”
IN a statement signed by President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, the congress urged the Federal Government to resume negotiation with ASUU and conclude signing of the contentious renegotiated 2009 agreement.
“Specifically, we call on government to sign the re-negotiated agreement with ASUU. Furthermore, President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier directed that a Federal Government team should meet with ASUU to resolve all the outstanding issues. We call on relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure Mr. President’s directive is discharged immediately to end the stalemate,” NLC said.
In the same breath, NLC named Abia, Cross River, Zamfara and Taraba as states that are yet to begin implementation of the national minimum wage, three years after the law came into existence, even as it cautioned petrol marketers from profiteering in the shortage of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).
THIS came as Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ali Pantami, declined comment on ASUU’s challenge to his appointment as professor of cybersecurity by Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
“From the evidence available to us, Dr. Pantami was not qualified, and the said appointment violated established procedure for appointment of professors in the university. ASUU National Executive Committee directs all members and branches of our union throughout the Nigerian federation not to recognise, accord or treat Dr. Isah Ali Ibrahim Pantami as a professor of cybersecurity under any guise,” the association had said.
“No comment,” Pantami said, when reporters sought his reaction, following the FEC meeting. He also resisted several overtures by newsmen seeking information on the matter.
MEANWHILE, The Guardian, yesterday, noted that academic activities at University of Ibadan (UI), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) and University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) campuses were paralysed.
“We have reached a point when we are saying treat us well, give us a new welfare system and sound conditions of service, so that our members can live good lives and enjoy the fruit of their labour,” said chairman of UI ASUU chapter, Prof. Ayo Akinwole.
In a related development, a pressure group, Joint Action Front (JAF), declared support for the industrial action, calling on the Federal Government to immediately meet the demands of ASUU, so that students could return to classes.
In a statement by JAF Secretary, Abiodun Aremu, in Ibadan, the group said: “JAF supports all the demands of ASUU, including the demand for adoption of UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution), as opposed to the corruption and fraud-induced payment system called Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which the Federal Government imposed on the university system.
“We hold that full implementation of these demands can guarantee improvement in the standard of university education, make it possible for children of the working class and poor masses to access university education and enhance improvement in working conditions of lecturers.”