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ASUU Issues Two-month Ultimatum to FG Over Withheld Salaries, Others

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has given the Federal Government a two-month ultimatum to implement all its demands or else it will use all legitimate means, including invoking ‘no pay, no work’ to enforce compliance.

Speaking on Tuesday during a press conference held by the Lagos State Zone of ASUU at the University of Lagos, Zonal Coordinator, Adelaja Odukoya, said Nigeria was on the verge of collapse.

Over the years, ASUU has frequently resorted to prolonged strike actions to pressure the FG into implementing its numerous demands aimed at benefiting the university system and its teaching staff.

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Unfortunately, despite the government’s promises to the union on numerous occasions, these pledges often remain unfulfilled.

Some of the unfulfilled promises the government made to ASUU were the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU 2009 agreement, the non-release of withheld salaries and arrears of Earned Academic Allowances, inadequate funding of universities, proliferation of universities, and deceitful Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.

He said, “At our last NEC meeting on May 11 to 12, held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, we decided to give the government just two months to implement all our demands or else our union will raise powerfully in defence of the Nigerian public universities. Nigeria is on the verge of collapse, and all of its parts are being pulled along with it by the type of leaders who control its political and administrative spheres.

“It should not go without saying that our great and patriotic union will not give up even a single square inch of territory to grasshoppers that want to destroy our country, whose sole objective is the cavalier accumulation of illegal wealth.”

Odukoya narrated that ASUU would not fold its hands and watch politicians who prioritised themselves over and above the development of Nigeria destroy the public universities.

He maintained that if things continued as it is, ASUU as a patriotic union, would also rise powerfully in defence of the over-burdened and inhumanly over-taxed Nigerian people.

Odukoya revealed that the inadequate funding of Nigerian universities was intentional to keep the country perpetually backwards.

He said, “As you can see, the university’s inadequate funding is intentional. It is in tandem with the neoliberal agenda of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which is to keep us perpetually backward and underdeveloped.

“No surprise our universities are in a programmatic way being transformed into superfluous entrepreneurial establishments that process bread and pure water, rather than to citadels of innovation and creativity of advanced technology.

“The intention is to make the country a consumer of technology rather than a veritable player in the knowledge and technology industry. ASUU rejects this in all entirety and calls on all well-meaning Nigerians to join in our crusade to force better funding for education and universities as an agent of liberation for our people.”

Odukoya explained that the renegotiated 2009 Agreement remained in its drafted form, owing to the government’s refusal to either sign the document or request a review if it had issues with certain areas.

“The Agreement, as you might be aware from past documents, covers not just conditions of service (salaries and allowances), but funding of universities, university Autonomy and Academic Freedom, and other matters. The refusal of the government to conclude the renegotiation indicates a lack of understanding of the profound nature of the document such that the government is now pretending that giving a salary award has now rested the matter.

“The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention No. 98 addresses the principle of collective bargaining within which our union continues to engage the government on this topic. The ILO’s C095 Protection of Wages Convention, 1949 provides for “mutual agreement in alteration of wages payable in virtue of a written or unwritten contract of employment by an employer to an employed person” (Article 1) The provisions of ILO’s C095 (Article 2 1 & 2) assert.”

Also speaking, former chairman, ASUU-UNILAG, Dele Ashiru, added, “In two months, if all of these outstanding issues are not implemented, the NEC will convey to take further actions. We are here to draw government attention and alert the Nigerian people to the lacklustre nature of government response to the unresolved issues between the government and our union.

“We put the people of Nigeria on notice that should there be a crisis in the university system, Bola Tinubu should be squarely held responsible. One year is ample time to begin the process of rectifying the shortcomings of the APC-led Buhari administration.”

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