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Nigeria’s future bleak without sound varsity system, ASUU insists

By Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Michael Egbejule (Benin City), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan) and Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna)
27 May 2022   |   4:06 am
“Nigeria’s future would be in jeopardy if we fail to fight for a better university system.”

A cross section of Nigerian students

•Says industrial action ongoing, distances self from N34b arrears payment
•FG promises to pay consequential wage adjustments to all four unions
•COEASU urges action on its demands to avert strike

“Nigeria’s future would be in jeopardy if we fail to fight for a better university system.”

The above was the submission of University of Ibadan (UI) chapter chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Ayo Akinwole, who during a live programme, yesterday, in Ibadan, urged Nigerians “not to be deceived by the antics of the Federal Government over the ongoing payment of minimum wage arrears.”

He said “N34 billion is being paid to lecturers and senior staff in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, and not to ASUU.”

The don observed that in the last two decades, no administration has “willingly released money for the university system without strikes by ASUU.”

Akinwole said besides the fact that the Federal Government “is yet to provide concrete responses to the reasons why the union went on strike,” he added that those paid the consequential minimum wage adjustments ought to have got the entitlement since April 2019.

He reiterated that the industrial action was ongoing and comprehensive.

The union leader said Nigerians could now appreciate the sacrifices of university lecturers, “who are just being paid their arrears three years after they were supposed to have been paid,” adding: “The government owes us many debts.”

The Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma chapter of the union also confirmed continuity of the strike, despite speculations making the rounds that the institution was about reopening.

A statement, yesterday in Benin City, by the chairperson and acting secretary, Dr. Cyril Oziegbe Onogbosele and Dr. William Odion, said the lecturers would return to classes only when the strike is suspended by ASUU national leadership.

The union was reacting to the May 23 notice by the Acting Registrar, directing students to return to halls of residence, effective May 26.

The chapter, therefore, ruled out resumption of academic activities in the institution for now, noting that it had not pulled out of the national strike as being peddled in certain quarters.

It advised management to seize the opportunity to resolve the salary crisis in the ivory tower with a view to avoiding continuation of the industrial disharmony after the eventual suspension of the national strike.

TO end the raging impasse, the Federal Government is to pay the minimum wage consequential adjustments to all the four unions in the sector.

The decision followed complaints from leaders of some education sector-based unions that their members were yet to receive the arrears, which the Federal Government had approved and ordered the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to ensure disbursements to affected employees.

Reacting to grievances of some non-teaching staff, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said he had contacted the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, as well as the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) for confirmation of commencement of payment.

The affected unions are ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).

He appealed to them to remain calm, pledging that government was committed to meeting its obligations.
BESIDES, the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), North Central Zone, yesterday, appealed to government to address the body’s ‘legitimate’ demands to avert industrial action.

It made the appeal in a statement signed by its Vice President and Zonal Coordinator, Noah Danlami, in Kaduna.

COEASU cautioned the federal and state governments against failing to address their demands, threatening to cripple the college of education system in the country.