Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have threatened to embark on another industrial action following a three-week ultimatum issued by the union last month.
They, however, called on well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to honour the agreement reached with the union.
The lecturers made the call on Friday at separate briefings held in the northern and southern parts of the country where they said the government’s action has left them with no other option than to withdraw their services.
At the end of a meeting of the Ibadan Zone of ASUU held at the University of Ilorin, the zonal coordinator, Professor Oyebamiji Oyegoke, said the union has been pushed to the wall over the non-implementation of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) reached with the government in 2020.
He explained that the union was planning another strike because of the failure to fully implement the MoA.
“Government, by its piecemeal implementation of the contentious issues in the MoA of 2020, is not sincere in fulfilling its part of the agreement,” said the don. “Selective treatment of issues in dispute instead of a comprehensive approach will no longer be acceptable to our members; we shall no longer take the issue of welfare of our members for granted.
“Any treatment of MoA of 2020 that precludes its full implementation and rejection of IPPIS will be incomplete. If it has taken ASUU’s position of resuming a suspended strike action to rouse the government from its sleep of non-implementation of the MoA of 2020, one needs to ask, how many of such reminders should ASUU give before its demands are met?
“It is on the basis of the failure of government to meet up with the promises made as attested to in the MoA of 2020 that the union is calling on Nigerians to intervene at this critical moment. The demands of the union are realistic and holistic in the common interest of the country’s educational and developmental pursuits. If nothing is done, we will be left with no other choice than to withdraw our services until reason prevails.”
Professor Oyegoke stated that the agreement was supposed to address the issues of revitalisation of public universities, full payment of the academic earned allowance, withheld salaries and promotion arrears, inconsistencies in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) payment, and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
He accused the government of demonstrating an intention to embarrass the collective resolve to save university education from total collapse.
“ASUU cannot succumb to this insensitive disposition,” the lecturer stated. “As we celebrate Human Rights Day today, 10th December, we recall the declaration of 1948 which acknowledged the struggles of the oppressed people around the world.
“So, we use this opportunity to ask the Nigerian government to respect the rights of the people to education and decent working conditions.”
The Ibadan zone comprises the University of Ibadan, University of Ilorin, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osun State University, and Kwara State University.
A similar briefing was held by members of the Yola Zone of the union at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the Adamawa State capital.
The zonal coordinator, Dr. Reuben Jonathan, also appealed to Nigerians to add their voices by calling on the government to implement the MoA of 2020.
He asked them to hold the government responsible should the union embark on another strike, stressing the need for traditional and religious leaders among others to intervene so as to avert a looming strike.
“Though education is an inalienable right of every Nigerian child, we are aware that due to the flagrant neglect and frustration of Nigerian public universities, government functionaries are deliberately denying the poor Nigerian children access to university education as their children are secured in private universities all over the world.
“We, therefore, call on the general public and concerned citizens to save public universities by compelling the government to honour its agreements,” said Jonathan.
ASUU Sets To Appeal Court Order Directing Lecturers To Call Off Strike
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will appeal the ruling of the National Industrial Court which ordered the lecturers to call off their ongoing strike.
Mr Femi Falana, who is the counsel to the union, confirmed this to Channels Television on Wednesday hours after the ruling of the court, saying he was preparing the grounds of appeal at the time of this report.
The industrial action by ASUU has continued to take a toll on the nation’s education, especially the tertiary sector as academic activities in most government-owned universities have been halted for over seven months.
The lecturers downed tools on February 14 over the controversy on the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) of the government as the payment system in the university sector, among other issues.
They had also condemned the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some of their colleagues, as well as the inability of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers.
But efforts to get the academics back to class have failed until now as several negotiations between the union and the government have failed.
Amid outcry over the effect of the industrial action and after seemingly exploring all available options, the government decided to take legal action against the union.
The government, through its lead counsel, Mr James Igwe, had filed an application for an interlocutory injunction, seeking an order of the court restraining ASUU from further continuing with the strike.
Delivering a ruling on the government’s application, Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action, pending the determination of the suit.
He ordered that the case file should be returned to the president of the Industrial Court for reassignment to another judge, as he is a vacation judge.
According to the judge, the strike is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
He added that the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.
Justice Hamman upheld the application of the government, saying it was meritorious and granted, but refused to fine the government as demanded by ASUU.
Education: Court Orders ASUU To Call Off Strike
The National Industrial Court has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to call off the ongoing Strike.
Delivering a ruling on the interlocutory injunction filed by the Federal government, Justice Polycarp Hamman restrained ASUU from continuing with the industrial action pending the determination of the suit.
Justice Hamman who is a vacation judge ordered that the case filed should be returned to the President of the Industrial Court for reassignment to another judge.
The Judge further held that the industrial action is detrimental to public university students who cannot afford to attend private tertiary institutions.
He said the Trade Dispute Act mandates workers not to embark on strike once an issue has been referred to the industrial court.
Justice Hamman also upheld the application of the Federal Government saying it was meritorious and granted.
The court therefore restrained “ASUU, whether by themselves, members, agents, privies or howsoever called, from taking further steps and doing any act in continuance of the strike action pending the hearing and determination of the suit filed.”
The judge refused to fine the federal government as demanded by ASUU.
This order comes a few hours after the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) threatened not to allow any political campaign hold across the country till students of public universities return to classrooms.
Chairman, NANS National Taskforce, Ojo Olumide, announced this at a press conference in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Wednesday, some days to September 28, the official date for candidates to kick-off campaign as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
“Our blocking of access to public roads and ports is just a warning. If the government fails to conclude all the negotiation and agreement with ASUU within the frame of two weeks, they will witness more protests and rallies all over the country, they will also witness the annoyance, anger and frustration of Nigerians Students who have been at home for the past seven months.
“As we promise them that we will not allow any political campaign to hold across the country until we are back to class. This government has pushed so many Nigerians students into depression. We say enough is enough; we can no longer bear the brunt from this avoidable crisis in our nation public ivory towers again,” he said.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike since February 14, 2022 as talks between the Federal Government and lecturers of public universities have not yielded a comprise upon which students can return to class.
In a bid to get the lecturers back to the citadels of learning, the Federal Government dragged the ASUU to the National Industrial Court.
In a statement, the Head of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, said the Federal Government took the decision after dialogue between it and ASUU failed.
According to him, the government wants the National Industrial Court to order ASUU members to resume work, while the issues in dispute are being addressed by the court.
The referral instrument addressed to the Registrar of Industrial Court was dated September 8, 2022, and signed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
In a reaction to the FG’s legal action, ASUU cautioned the Federal Government against forcing striking members of the union back to class via court order.
According to the president of the union, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, one can only wonder what manner of teaching the academic staff will dish out after they have been forced back to the classrooms.
ASUU strike: Students Sets To Ground Airports
— Pass vote of no confidence on FG
— We’re tired of pleading with both parties
Dayo Johnson, Akure
The leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has vowed to ground activities at international airports across the country, to protest against the seven monthly impasses between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The Chairman, NANS National Task Force on ‘End ASUU Strike Now,’ Ojo Raymond Olumide, who spoke in Akure, decried the attitude of the federal government towards the striking lecturers as well as education as a whole.
Olumide said that “the four-day shutdown of busy highways and expressways had been a success, hence the move to disrupt international travels in order for the bourgeois and the government to feel the pains that had subjected students to in the past seven months.
According to him, the students were already tired of pleading with both parties over the need to end the strike.
Olumide said that the airports that will be occupied will remain grounded until the strike is called off, adding that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration must pay all outstanding arrears and salaries of the lecturers.
“We shall begin another round of protest next week by storming the airspaces to #OccupyTheAirports. We want to let the world know about the pains and anguish students are going through.
“Nigerian students whose parents create the commonwealth cannot continue to be suffering at home alongside our lecturers while the few who gain from our sweats and blood have their kids abroad jollying and flexing.
“We call on students to rise and join us as we take our destinies into our hands. Our demands remain consistently clear and simple. We Call on ASUU leadership for a meeting as soon as possible to discuss Solidarity actions and plan for the next phase of the struggles.
“Nigerian Students are not subjected to security agencies and we haven’t seen any step from them to avert the ASUU strike. He said they could not tell them that they were not aware of what is going on.
“Being on the road for the past four days and had garnered a lot of solidarity. Grounding the airport is for us to get solidarity and we will keep on grounding the local and international airports they know the effect of us grounding the airport, the only thing we request for them is to open our campuses back.
“They should give enough budgetary allocation, we are not asking for 26 per cent we are asking for 22 per cent.
“We pass a vote of No Confidence on both Ministers of Labour and Education. We Call on the Buhari government to pay all outstanding arrears and salaries of the lecturers.
“The policy of “No Work No Pay” is a Fascist one; it is, therefore condemnable and nonacceptable to all the millions of students in Nigeria.
“We will, by this statement, not beg again. We shall be mobilizing all students to shut down the country. No Education! No Movement!
Olumide who berated the Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, over his purported comment on the barricade of federal roads by the students, said that the strike had continued to linger due to the absence of children of the political class in public universities.
“Through Nigerians, the Federal and state governments became and are still uncomfortable with our protests.
” Instead of them responding to us responsibly and what have you; we were shocked that the Minister of Works Babatunde Fashola came up with an illegal utterance befitting of only rabble-rousers and political irritants by calling out fundamental Human Rights “illegal!”
“What Minister Fashola has done is amazing.
After all, the camera he found at LekkiTollGate after the massacre is still a mystery.
“Yet, the Minister’s outburst is also another evidence that the Buhari government hates real educational development.
“They are never apologetic and are hell-bent on destroying every remnant of State welfare left. They prefer to kill the public schools instead of revamping them.
“Nigerian students are not surprised that the Buhari government does not care about public education.
“After all, all the politicians have their kids schooling abroad while the children of the masses that constitute 99% of the population are only fit to be thugs, hard workers, and sex slaves.
Olumide added that “We dare say that this cruelty will not continue anymore. And, it is on this note we call on the national leadership of ASUU to synergise with Nigerian students in achieving this struggle that we have commenced by ensuring that a state of emergency is declared in the educational sector.”
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