A human rights lawyer and public affairs analyst in Akwa Ibom State, Sammy Etuk, said the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) should continue its strike until the administration Buhari do the needful.
He was talking with Naija News Monday in Uyo, the state capital, as ASUU renewed its current strike for another 12 weeks.
Etuk said the quality of education had dropped so much in Nigeria, pointing out that in the early 1990s, when he was an undergraduate at Uyo University, “universities were much better than they are not today”.
According to him, ”The Buhari administration is unwilling to address the issues raised by ASUU because the children of administration officials are educated abroad.
”Although I am seriously affected by the strike, I still believe that ASUU should not surrender so easily. Let them continue the action, I don’t think ASUU should back down from their ongoing strike action..
‘“The only way to bring striking university professors back to lecture halls is for the Buhari administration to come to an agreement with them and start implementing any agreement reached in a transparent way.
‘“Other than that, ASUU should continue the strike. It is sad that we no longer have a vibrant National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). By now, the NANS is said to have sacked the National Assembly and locked down Abuja due to the authorities’ insensitivity to their plight.”
However, some of ASUU’s demands include releasing revitalization funds for universities, renegotiating the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, releasing earned allowances for university professors, and rolling out the UTAS payment for the payment of salaries and allowances of university professors.
President of the ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodekein a statement, said the union had given the federal government sufficient time to satisfactorily resolve all outstanding issues, noting that the rolling strike was effective as of 12:01 a.m., May 9, 2021.
He said the union took the decision after its National Executive Council meeting which started on Sunday evening at the National Secretariat of Comrade Festus Iyayi, University of Abuja.
“After lengthy deliberations, noting the government’s inability to fulfill its responsibilities and expeditiously address all issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action during the additional eight-week strike period declared on March 14, 2022, NEC decided that the strike be extended for twelve weeks to give the government more time to satisfactorily resolve all outstanding issues.
“The rolling strike takes effect from 12:01 a.m. on Monday, May 9, 2022.”
The rest of the statement reads as follows: “The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting on Sunday 8th May 2022 at the National Secretariat of Comrade Festus Iyayi, University of Abuja, Abuja.
“The meeting has been convened to review developments since the union declared an all-out, eight-week strike action at the end of its emergency NEC meeting at the National Secretariat of Comrade Festus Iyayi, University of Abuja, Abuja on 14 March 2022.
The strike came on the heels of the government’s failure to satisfactorily implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the union in December 2020 on the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU agreement of 2009, Deployment of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), Earned Academic Allocations (EAA), Public Universities Revitalization Funding (Federal and State), University Proliferation and Governance Issues status, promotion arrears, withheld wages (over 20 months overdue in some cases), and failure to issue third-party deductions.
Adding, he said, NEC noted with deep disappointment that the three-man committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari last February 1 to resolve the lingering issues between ASUU and FGN had not convened only one meeting so far.
“The NEC was also disappointed that ASUU’s only meeting with the Renegotiation Committee headed by Professor Nimi Briggs did not reflect the expected level of understanding, preparation and clarity that underpins collective bargaining according to the committee’s admission of “consulting the stakeholders”. Unless urgent action is taken to redirect the Committee towards the conclusion of a draft agreement that has been pending since May 2021, its activities could turn into another wild goose hunt.‘, the statement said.
The ASUU NEC also condemned Abuja’s cavalier attitude towards the strike over the past twelve weeks, saying the government’s resort to using starvation as a weapon to shatter the collective resolve of members of ASUU and undermining our patriotic struggle to reposition public universities in Nigeria was wrong. -recommended and may be counterproductive.
“NEC was shocked that public universities remained closed for about three months while members of the political class were busy buying expression of interest and nomination forms worth millions of naira in preparation for the 2023 elections! Those in power turned their backs on our crumbling universities as they shuttled between Europe and America to celebrate the graduation of their children and wards from world-class universities. This speaks volumes about the level of depravity, callousness and irresponsibility of Nigeria’s opportunistic and parasitic political class.
“The result of the criminal neglect of education and gross mismanagement of the nation’s heritage is evident in the collapse of our nation’s security architecture. Insecurity is getting worse day by day and is spreading like harmattan hell in hitherto peaceful and secure parts of Nigeria, including university campuses. ASUU warns, once again, that unless something drastic is done to reverse these ugly trends, the country could be heading towards a state of anarchy.
“NEC has condemned the provocative statements of some government officials and commends the Nigerian Labor Congress, patriotic student groups and civil society organizations that have taken steps to resolve the current labor dispute with the Nigerian government.
“NEC has found the planned overseas trip organized by the Committee of Spouses Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNUS) despicable and condemnable. The announced five-day Istanbul conference is a waste of our universities’ scarce resources; c is insensitive and provocative, especially at a time like this when professors are being denied salaries for daring to fight to improve the lot of our public universities”says the press release.
In a meeting with the National Association of Striking University Technologists last Friday, Minister of Labor and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige promised to meet with ASUU this week. But, Osodeke says the union has yet to receive a summons from a government official.