The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has reiterated that it will continue the nationwide strike by union members, which has now lasted five months.
This was said by Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the national president of ASUU, during a press conference on Tuesday, July 19, in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
As a result of the government’s adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as the payment system in the university sector, lecturers at government-owned universities began a statewide strike on February 14.
They had also criticized the underfunding of institutions, the nonpayment of some of their coworkers’ salaries and benefits, and the government’s inability to pay lecturers’ deserved academic allowances, among other problems.
Numerous conversations between the union and the administration have resulted in impasse since the start of the industrial action.
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Many people and organizations have urged the administration to find a long-term solution to the situation amid outrage about the impact of the industrial action on the country’s tertiary education industry.
Professor Osedeke claimed that the current predicament should be attributed to Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, during his briefing on Tuesday in the nation’s capital.
An excerpt from his statement read;
It has become imperative for us in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to update Nigerians and lovers of education everywhere in the world on the status of our ongoing nationwide strike action which began on 14th February 2022. The need for doing so could be traced to two sources. First, as a union of intellectuals that deals with facts and verifiable claims, there is need to put the records straight on our engagements with the government.
This need becomes very compelling against the backdrop of the statements recently pushed out from the government quarters. Specifically, there have been insinuations by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that there was no agreement between ASUU and the government; that ASUU sat down to fix its own members’ salaries; and that our Union asked representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to recuse themselves from the negotiations.
Also, it appears that Dr. Ngige has deliberately misrepresented the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention on the collective bargaining agreement and the roles of a conciliator to serve his propagandist interest in this matter.
ASUU Criticizes Ngige
Osodeke further detailed how Ngige reneged on preexisting agreements which has led to a stalemate between the stakeholders to the detriment of Nigerian students.
Following the resumption of the strike action by our Union at the University of Lagos, on the 14th February 2022, we participated at several meetings at the instance of the Ministry of Labour and Employment chaired by Dr. Chris Ngige as “Conciliator”.
To our utter dismay, nothing concrete came out of the endless deliberations as the Conciliator kept approbating and reprobating. For instance, he would declare that he fully supported our demand that the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU be speedily concluded within six weeks while at the same time creating an unrealistic pathway to arriving at a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Similarly, Dr. Ngige kept going back and forth on concluding the integrity test for the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for replacing the discredited Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) contrary to the letters and spirit of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of December 2021.