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Again, ASUU knocks FG over lack of political will to implement MoU

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…As tension mounts over looming strike

By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has carpeted the Federal Government over its inability to demonstrate sincerity in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding reached between the duo since 2009.

The Union said FG failed to listen to a sense of reasoning and reneged in solving the problems confronting public universities in Nigeria for obvious lack of political will.

The Chairperson of ASUU, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Chapter, Comrade Dr. Stephen Ufoaroh, made this known on the sidelines of ASUU-NAU congress held last Thursday at the University. 

Ufoaroh, who decried the frustration faced by Union members over Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), advised the federal government to immediately deploy University Transparency Account System (UTAS), which, he said, would accommodate the peculiarities of academic staff unlike the former. 

While noting that the union was not strike-hungry, he hinted that the union would not hesitate to resume strike because of insincerity of the government to implement the December MoU which led to the suspension of the last strike. He said the Federal Government had not met any of the agreements reached last December, decrying that it was only the revitalisation fund that was released to universities able to defend their proposal before the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC).

According to the chairperson, all the other issues in the MoU are still outstanding; salaries of some of our members are still being owed since two years now, promotion arrears are not being paid. So, virtually everything they promised is still on paper, we have not seen it. We are supposed to have received one of the tranches of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) in May this year, but this has not been paid. The federal government is yet to release the mainstreamed 2019/2020 EAA contained in the 2021 supplementary budget to ASUU members.

He disclosed that upon expiration of the 3-weeks ultimatum issued to the federal government that the union would summon an emergency National Executive Council meeting to review the situation and decide on the next line of action. He, however, did not rule out a possibility of industrial action as the last resort by the union should FG continue to renege.

“ASUU may be forced to resume strike because it has never called off any strike action. The strike has been ongoing since 2009. We know the government cannot be trusted. Why we suspended the strike was not because we don’t know what they can do but for the appeals of parents and students. Politicians only change party as humans change clothes, but their character does not change, especially as it concerns the interest of the masses.

“I hope the government will not allow this next strike to come. We are not strike-hungry but if the government wants otherwise, we won’t hesitate to exercise that option. That is why we are still seeking avenues to resolve the matters amicably with dialogue for the interest of the students and the nation at large but when this dialogue fails, strike may be the last resort”, he warned.

On unpaid salaries of members, Ufoaroh said, “The union has been engaging the university management, and ASUU national leadership, which engages the federal government as well to put an end to all these irregularities. We appeal to our members to still exercise patience because we will come out victorious. 

“What we are being paid as lecturers today is what we have been receiving since 2009. Check the inflation rate today and tell me how the lecturers are faring. No other worker in Nigeria is treated the way we are being treated in academics. Is it a crime that we are trying to train our future leaders?”, the chairperson queried.

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