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ASUU berates Ngige, Nwajiuba over industrial dispute claims

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

Members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Owerri zone, have accused the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, and the Minister of State for Education, Mr. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, of misleading Nigerians on the ongoing industrial dispute.

The union said the ministers should apologise to Nigerians and bury their heads in shame on the serial failures of governments, particularly the present government, which purportedly came on the mantra of change; regretting that the ministers were feeding Nigerians with lies and half truth.

It, however, urged students, parents and other stakeholders to stand by the union, just as they said the union was fighting a just course.

In a press statement signed by the zonal coordinator, ASUU Owerri, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, and other zonal executives in Awka, the Anambra state capital, the union alleged that, “Ngige and Nwajiuba had on many occasions, said that agreement had been reached on virtually all the issues that necessitated the over 7-month-old strike.

“As far as our union is concerned, no agreement has been reached on any of the demands. So, instead of constantly running to the press, Ngige and Nwajiuba should sit down and painstakingly do the work that they are paid to do.

“It is on record that the date given by the minister, Ngige, to reach our union with government improved position has elapsed without any communication. The proposed new timelines for implementation of some proposals such as appointment of a new team for renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement, gazetting of visitation panels, among others, have elapsed without any implementation. This shows the insincerity on the part of government.

“On IPPIS, our union has been consistent in rejecting the platform, as it compromises the autonomy of the university system and a threat to national security, considering that the software is hosted in Washington, USA, with a sub-platform at Gombe state.

“Our union has spent millions of Naira of check-off dues of her members and produced the local solution, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which will protect the greatest human asset of the country, fight corruption, ensure transparency and satisfy university autonomy.”

They, however, appealed to the federal government to end the nearly eight month strike to bring students back to the classroom; even as the union warned that it would not shift grounds on its demands.

“We need to settle this once and for all. We cannot afford to be going on strike almost every year or two, thus, interrupting the smooth flow of our academic calendar. Let the federal government show sincerity, so that our children can go back to school, because, any further delay will be disastrous,” they warned.

It would be recalled that ASUU had embarked on a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action on March 23, 2020, due to government failure to honour the February 7, 2019, Memorandum of Action (MOA).

The issues in contention are revitalisation funds for public universities, arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), visitation to universities, proliferation of state universities and issues of governance in them, and conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement.

According to the union, the later issue of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was a new introduction and a diversion of attention, and no university in the world runs such a system.

Universities under the ASUU, Owerri zone, are Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli (COOU); Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO); Imo State University, Owerri (IMSU); Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU) and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (NAU).

Present at the meeting are Comrades Okey Aniebo, chairperson, ASUU-COOU; Christopher Echereobia, chairperson, ASUU-FUTO; Luke Uzoigwe, chairperson, ASUU-IMSU; Chinyere Echendu, chairperson, ASUU-MOUAU, and Stephen Ufoaroh, chairperson, ASUU-NAU. Also in attendance was Comrade Dennis Aribodo, former chairperson, ASUU NAU.

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