The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday said the ongoing strike would only be called off after the Federal Government fully implements all the offers it made to the union after their last meeting.
The development is contrary to the claims by the minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that the government has done what it takes for the union to resume by the close of the week. Prof . Biodun Ogunyemi, the National President of ASUU also denied reaching any conclusive agreement with the federal government.
The lecturers said they were tired of Federal Government’s antics of making unfulfilled promises, insisting that the strike would be called off after they got tangible evidence and concrete actions that the offers made to them by the Federal Government had been implemented.
Answering questions on when the strike would then be called off, Ogunyemi said, “Our members said they want to see evidence of satisfactory implementation of all they have proposed before the strike can be called off.”
The ASUU president recalled that last year, the government promised to release funds for the revitalisation of public universities, which was one of the demands of the union, but failed to do so.
Ogunyemi stated, “As for the proposal, it can be disaggregated. There are items there that require implementation. If they are setting up a committee on state universities, and they actually do, it is not something we need to agree on. It is about action.
“If they have implemented it, it is off the list. If the government says it will pay a shortfall of salaries on a certain date, and the date comes and they release the money, it is also implementation. There is no agreement on the matter.
“On the revitalisation fund, we presented to the government that five tranches of N220bn each were outstanding. The government has not said it will release one, even if it is spread over a period of one year. There is no agreement on that. What they are offering is not even up to one tranche.
“Last year, they promised to release the fund but they did not till November when the strike began. Long story short, our members are saying they do not want promises again, what they want is action, implementation or disbursement of funds. The government must act in a way to convince the union that agreement has not been set aside; to show that government has not set aside the agreement, they should release one tranche.”
He explained that in order to forestall a situation ASUU and the government would restart negotiations on arrears of earned academic allowances, both sides agreed that “it would be mainstreamed into the 2019 budget.”
Ogunyemi also announced members to await further developments on the strike.
According to him, the proposal from government towards resolving the demands of ASUU as contained in the 2017 MoA is still fluid and far from expectations.
The bulletin read in part, “Though some progress has been made with respect to discussion with government agents (The Minister of Labour and Employment as well as the Minister of Education), at the moment, the proposal from government towards resolving the demand of ASUU as contained in 2017 MoA and Strike Bulletin 1 is still fluid and far from expectations. Hence, it is the view of the National Strike Coordinating Committee that members should await further developments which are rapidly unfolding.”
The ASUU president revealed that the union would not participate in the 2019 elections but stated that members were free to take part. This was after the union’s meeting with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu and some officers of the commission.
While its members are free to participate in the elections, the union issued warnings that prohibit from participating in the election processes using any material that bears ASUU or relates to the union.”