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ASUU lambasts FG, sets to proceed on indefinite strike if…

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has lambasted the federal government over claim that the duo entered into various agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) and Memrandum of Agreements (MoAs) under duress.

The ASUU Owerri Zonal Coordinator, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, gave this admonition during a press conference on Monday held at ASUU Secretariat, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state. 

According to the zonal coordinator, the representatives of the federal government are claiming that the Federal Government of Nigeria entered into various agreements, MoUs and MoAs under duress. “Where lies the supremacy of ASUU as to coerce the federal government to enter into agreement under duress?”, the union queried.

Comrade Onyebinama said all efforts to get the agents of the Federal Government to respond and resolve the challenges have woefully failed. He said the union is mulling strike because of intransigence of the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria to once again truncate teaching and research activities in public universities.

“We once again alert Nigerians, that unless the federal government strives to sincerely resolve these issues, there will be no rest for us all. There will be no more MoUs or MoAs. When the macabre dance begins, there will be no stopping it until everything is fully implemented. The insincerity of the federal government is not just beyond understanding, it is beyond tolerance”, he warned.

In a statement titled, “No light at the end of the tunnel”, and made available to newsmen, the union warned that once it embarks on another strike, that it would not suspend it unless every agreement is duly implemented. It, therefore, called on well-meaningful Nigerians to once again, prevail on the federal government to do the needful or risk another industrial unrest.

The statement was signed by representatives of universities under the Owerri Zone – Comrade Onyebinama of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), Comrade Okey Aniebo, Chairperson of ASUU, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) and Comrade Christopher Echerobia, Chairperson of ASUU, Federal University of Science and Technology (FUTO).

Others are Comrade Augustine Ejiogu, Chairperson of ASUU, Imo State University (IMSU), Comrade Chike Ugwuene, Chairperson of ASUU, (MOUAU) and Comrade Steve Ufoaroh, Chairperson of ASUU, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. 

The statement reads in part, “We are saddened that having reached the end of the tunnel, we couldn’t find any light. True to their character, the agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria have reneged from implementing the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement.

“The magnanimity of the Academic Staff Union of Universities that resulted in various MoUs and MoAs arising from the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement has been spurned by the federal government.

“As we speak, the federal government is still in arrears of major components of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, that includes funding for the revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances and the renegotiation of 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement.

“The situation has been compounded by the introduction of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), and the attendant consequences of mutilated salaries, promotion arrears and non-resolution of the more favoured Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS)”.

While calling for the immediate deployment of UTAS for the payment of its members, the zonal coordinator decried that some of its members were still owed over 11 months of salaries.

The immediate past chairperson of ASUU, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Comrade Dennis Aribodor, while responding to press questions, fingered federal government for deliberately killing public education in Nigeria, and noted that education ought to be the right of every citizen.

Comrade Aribodor, who decried the poor budgetary allocations to education, wondered how a serious government that could treat education with such levity. He accused the federal government of intentionally lowering education standard with its dubious policies to deny Nigerians from taking their pride place of place in the world.

He recalled how the former President Olusegun Obasanjo threatened to flood Nigeria with private universities instead of funding public universities, a situation, he said, had resulted in more deterioration of public universities. He regretted that while the number of private universities in Nigeria exceeds the public universities, over 95 per cent of Nigeria students are in public universities. He called on students and other stakeholders to support the union’s quest, struggle to reposition public universities in Nigeria. 

Earlier, Comrade Ufoaroh said the union would continue with its struggle to save public universities in Nigeria, while reassuring that the union would resist the planned introduction of tuition fees in public universities by the federal government.

Comrade Chinyere Echendu, immediate past chairperson of ASUU, MOUAU and Comrade Emeka Nwabunnia, the immediate past chairperson of ASUU, COOU, were part of the zonal members that graced the press conference.

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