From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Chairman of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Joel Okewale, has blamed the continuing strike action by the Union on what he termed the “Federal government’s insincerity, deceitful approach and unwillingness to resolve the issues raised by the Union”.
Okewale stated this yesterday while briefing newsmen at the ASUU Secretariat, OOU Mini Campus, Ago Iwoye.
At the briefing attended by the Secretary of the branch, Olugbenga Azeez, the immediate past zonal coordinator (Lagos) of ASUU and member of the union’s negotiating team, Adetola Nassir and other branch executive members, he said that rather than addressing and resolving the main issues that led to the strike, the Federal Government had engaged in dishing out false information to raise hope of Nigerians over the matter.
He noted that government had not shown serious commitment to the defraying of the outstanding N1.1trillion revitalisation fund and the shortfalls in salaries to affected ASUU members, a situation which, according to him, would make the suspension of the ongoing strike difficult.
Okewale explained further that the revitalisation fund as contained in the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and 2017 Memorandum of Action (MoA) between the FG and ASUU, were meant to ensure rapid transformation of Nigeria’s public universities for improved efficiency, infrastructural development and global competitiveness.
He added that the union had agreed with the FG to release the outstanding revitalisation fund in tranches at N220b annually, noting that the release of N25b by the government to 69 public universities and which was widely publicised, was a far cry from what was agreed upon.
On the payment of shortfalls in salaries of ASUU members, Okewale disclosed that N20b released by the FG for the purpose was not meant for university lecturers alone, but for staff of MDAs, polytechnics, colleges of education and others.
He declared that “the Union would continue with the strike action until the FG shows serious commitment to the payment of revitalisation fund, renegotiation of 2009 agreement and addressing of other matters such as release of NUPEMCO’s operation license by PenCom, full payment of arrears of shortfalls in salaries of university academies, release of the report of forensic audit on Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), payment of outstanding arrears and mainstreaming of the allowances into 2018 budget, among other demands”.
Also speaking, Nassir said ASUU was not on strike for selfish reasons or individual gains of its members, but to ensure that university system in the country is upgraded and equipped to meet the global standard.
He stressed that the FG has been confusing and misleading Nigerians into believing that the strike would be suspended soon, saying that the much publicised N163b released by the government was the normal annual fund given to universities by Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and not to ASUU.
While calling for the understanding of Nigerians on the strike by ASUU, the former zonal coordinator of the union, reiterated the commitment of ASUU to ensure that universities in the country are re-engineered and repositioned for national development.