ASUU says ‘no retreat, no surrender, we are not on strike to count days, months’
By Gabriel Dike
The strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in public universities on has entered six-month with no end in sight.ASUU in February 14, 2022 declared industrial action to force the Federal Government to implement its outstanding demands. Some of the contentious issues date back to 2009 agreement signed by both parties.
Since February 14, the union had rolled over the strike from one month to two months. ASUU has also met with government officials and each negotiation ends in deadlock before it was concluded.
The six-month ASUU has grounded academic activities in public universities and has affected senate meetings, admission exercises for 2021 and 2022 academic sessions, supervision of final year students’ projects, matriculation and even convocation ceremony.
The Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, exclaimed so sad! It is 180 days since public universities were grounded and students at home since February 14.
Chief Ogunbanjo said the federal government has told the union its position on university transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS), adding, ASUU is now dictating how they will be paid and the system to be used.’’
He explained that ASUU is unnecessarily punishing Nigerian parents, saying female student have turned to prostitution while boys are into yahoo, yahoo.
“ASUU should listen to government and put the interest of the students first. The union’s demand that 1.1trillion be released is not feasible. Government says they can’t use UTAS to pay salaries and the union is singing a different tune.
“The way forward is that ASUU should go back and accept Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). For now ASUU is punishing parents. Government can release the grant by instalment and complete the release in three years,’’ he stated.
Ogunbanjo said politicians must be made to send their wards to public universities and advised Nigerians not to vote councillors, council chairmen, state house of assembly and federal lawmakers, governors and president if their children are schooling abroad.
ASUU Lagos Zone Coordinator, Dr. Adelaja Odukoya said, “we are not on strike to count days and months. Our focus is the struggle despite the imposed pains on us by government. For us, days are mere numbers on the calendar. Like time, a day is duration of consciousness.
“Thus, for us it is not how long, but the achievement of our objectives. That is, getting government to live up to its responsibilities to the Nigerian youths and public education in the country by being faithful to agreement entered into with our union.
“We are on this struggle for clearly defined objectives which are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN (major components of which are
our slave and oppressive conditions of service and funding for revitalization of public universities), adoption of UTAS which the government challenged us to produced as alternative to IPPIS which government has finally admitted is an evil and fraudulent platform, payment of outstanding promotion and Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) and stoppage of proliferation of public universities by both Federal and state governments.’’
He continued: “I don’t understand what you mean by ASUU shifting ground? Based on what? If it means calling off the strike and go back to the classrooms after six months of keeping students at home, government wicked and vicious non-payment of our salaries, inability of our members to be promoted, cancelation of inaugural lecturers, conferences, trainings, etc, then that is most unthinkable.
“As a union we don’t start a struggle we cannot conclude. This struggle for us will be seen to a logical conclusion, as it will be unpatriotic and irresponsible of our union to do otherwise. We would have mortally hurt and disappoint millions of Nigerians who have supported this struggle and see it as a veritable opportunity by ASUU to ensure a change and positive fortune of Nigerian public universities.”
Odukoya said the strike could be suspended when government demonstrates seriousness and do the needful, noting, “for us, no retreat, no surrender. We have dared to struggle, we shall surely overcome.”
Branch chairman, ASUU Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, told Daily Sun that the way forward is for the government to make known to the union what they are ready to offer with respect to the negotiated document, which was the outcome of the collective bargaining.
According to him, the negotiated document has been submitted to the government for more than a month.
“The matter of shifting ground does not come to play at the moment. We can’t talk about shifting if there is no response from government on the matter on the ground. Government officials should also stop been irresponsible by spitting nonsense on national television programmes, ‘’ he noted.