By Winifred Ogbebo and Henry Tyohemba, Abuja
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has embarked on an indefinite nationwide strike, following federal government’s refusal to fulfill the agreement made with it in 2009.
The national president of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, told journalists yesterday that the decision to embark on the industrial action was resolved at its emergency national executive council meeting held at University of Abuja during the weekend.
Ogunyemi said that the industrial action which took effect from Sunday August 13, 2017 will be “total, comprehensive and indefinite action whereby no form of academic activities, including teaching, attendance of any meeting, conduct and supervision of any examination at any level, supervision of project or thesis at any level would take place at any of the government universities”.
In 2009, after a strenuous and painstaking three-year renegotiation exercise, the federal government had signed an agreement with ASUU on the issues of conditions of service, funding, university autonomy and academic freedom.
Recalling this, ASUU’s national president said that failure of the government to implement the agreement led to series of warning strikes and a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action in 2011/2012.
He averred that the 2011/2012 strike actions forced government to conduct a nationwide assessment of the needs for addressing the rot and decay in public universities.
Ogunyemi said, “The report of the assessment released in July 2012 called for the immediate and comprehensive intervention and revitalization of the universities. The government approved the report but did not make concerted efforts. This compelled the union to embark on a six-month strike between July and December 2013 and the strike was suspended when government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the union.
“Of all the items contained in the MoU, only the N200b out of a total of N1.3trn of the public universities revitalisation (Needs Assessment) fund was released.
The union also embarked on a one week warning strike in November 2016 to press for the implementation of 2013 MoU. However, government did not implement the understanding reached between the union and federal government based on the intervention by the leadership of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
He stressed that government had ignored the system and the political class had also shifted attention to sending their wards to private universities and universities abroad, leaving public universities in Nigeria to collapse.
Ogunyemi, however, called on all patriots to prevail on owners of public universities to be alive to their responsibilities, adding that Nigerian university system should be given the attention they deserve.
NANS Issues 21-day Ultimatum To FG
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government to resolve the lingering crisis with the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), otherwise it will mobilise Nigerians against politicians whose children are not in public institutions.
National President of NANS, Chinonso Obasi, said the 21 days is for the federal government to resolve outstanding issues with ASUU in the interest of long suffering Nigerian students who are forced to bear the brunt of government insensitivity.
He said, “It is with deep pain and regret that NANS received the news of another indefinite strike by ASUU over federal government’s indifference to their plight.
“Nigerian students see the breakdown in negotiations as a further proof that political leaders don’t care about their future.
“Consequently, we wish to call on the federal government to do all it can to get ASUU back to the classrooms.”
Obasi said the demands of ASUU are reasonable and touch on the integrity of government, especially in the light of the fight against corruption
He continued: “NANS finds it hard to believe that a perceived responsible government should fail to honour agreements with members of ASUU for more seven years.
“In the light of the foregoing we hereby give the federal government 21 days to resolve outstanding issues with ASUU in the interest of longsuffering Nigerian students who are forced to bear the brunt of government insensitivity.
“Henceforth, Nigeria students will mobilize against politicians whose children are not in public institutions. In the coming weeks NANS will be meeting with leaders of ASUU to find out their irreducible minimum in their demands such that if by the expiration of 21days ultimatum, Nigeria students will ground activities in the country.”
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