ASUU Strike: FG has not met any of our demands – Comrade Ufoaroh
By Gabriel Chy Alonta
The chairperson of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka branch, Comrade Stephen Ufoaroh, has allegedly accused the Federal Government of not meeting up with any of the demands by the union since it embarked on industrial action on February 14, 2022.
Comrade Ufoaroh, who disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen on Thursday in Awka, the Anambra state capital, decried various intrigues and lies to malign the reputation and genuine demands of ASUU by the Federal government, including various propaganda tools, campaign of calumny, falsehood and misinformation.
According to him, none of the genuine demands of ASUU has been given requisite attention by the FGN. These are, “Re-negotiation of the 2009 FG-ASUU Agreement; Adoption of UTAS (which came first in the test by the Government) as a replacement for IPPIS as a payment platform; Payment of salaries arrears for academic staff; Payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA); Revitalization funds for the universities; Release of White Paper on Visitation Panels that concluded their assignment last year; and Non-proliferation of State Universities.
In a statement by ASUU-NAU branch after their Congress on Tuesday, August 23, 2022, the union noted with dismay, the continued imbroglio on the current lingering industrial action, occasioned by intransigence, and lack of commitment by government (both Federal and State) on the genuine demands of ASUU.
“On government’s negligence and repudiation of the reports of the various Government Negotiating Committees (The Prof. Jibril Munzali Committee of May, 2021, and the just concluded Prof. Nimi Brigg’s Committee), ASUU-NAU Congress viewed the Federal Government’s attitude as irresponsible, reprehensible and symptomatic of a divided and confused house.
“Congress rejected the Federal government’s award of salary to University lecturers, with the very insulting award of 35 percent increment for Professors at bar and 25 percent for other levels of academics, on a take-it-or-leave-it-basis. Congress observed that the award of salary negates the principle of collective bargaining, and an insult to the sensibilities of the finest intelligentsia of the nation’s human capital development.”It also observed that the education of Nigerians is not a priority of the government; that the Strike could have been avoided if the government had considered education a priority.
“On the press briefing by the Minister of Education on 17th August, 2022, Congress took note of the fruitless effort by the minister to misinform Nigerians to the effect that every issue with ASUU has been resolved except the issue of salary arrears for the months ASUU had been on strike, which, as he stated, government was not willing to pay and would not pay, to serve as a deterrence to strike.
“We wish to state categorically that at no time was the issue of salary arrears discussed with the Minister, as no agreement has been reached on the important issues that necessitated the strike. This statement by the Minister is diversionary, irresponsible and condemnable. And coming from a man who on 15th November, 2013 urged ASUU to continue the strike and expand the scope of its struggle, the failure of integrity test, the lack of character and the shock and disappointment of inconsistency is colossal to say the least”, the Congress bemoaned.
The Congress added, “The much the Buhari-led administration has done was a promise of implementation of ASUU’s demand in 2023, when perhaps, he must have left office, thereby shifting his responsibility to the next government. We viewed the government promissory note as an abdication of responsibility.
“Against the backdrop of governments intransigence and lack of commitment to reaching an agreement with ASUU on the contentious issues, after over six (6) months of industrial action, ASUU-NAU ultimately resolved for a comprehensive, total and indefinite strike going forward, until all issues at stake are satisfactorily resolved between the Union and the Federal Government.
“Congress appealed to parents, students and the entire citizens of Nigeria to continue to show solidarity in this struggle to give every Nigerian youth quality education”.
The Unizik branch of the union also passed a vote of total confidence and reaffirmed support for the National, Zonal and Branch leaderships of the Union in their management of the struggle to save the soul of the Public Universities in Nigeria, where, according to the Congress, over 95 percent of Nigerian students study, and for being a voice for the voiceless citizens of Nigeria.