By Gabriel Dike
Parents across the country have expressed anger and sadness as the strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in public universities entered its sixthe month at the weekend with no end in sight.
On February 14, the uniondeclared 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.
The union had rolled over the strike from one month to two months. ASUU has also met with government officials but each negotiation had ended in deadlock.
The strike has grounded academic activities in public universities and has affected Senate meetings, admission exercises for the 2021 and 2022 academic sessions, supervision of final year students’ projects, matriculation and even convocation ceremony.
Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said it was “extremely saddening and disheartning.”
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 said ASUU is unnecessarily punishing Nigerian parents, saying female students have turned to prostitution while boys were into “Yahoo, yahoo” a local balance for fraudster.
“ASUU should listen to government and put the interest of the students first. The union’s demand that N1.1 trillion 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 in installments and complete the release in three years,’’ he said.
Ogunbanjo said politicians must be made to send their wards to public universities and advised Nigerians not to vote councillors, council chairmen, House of Assembly and federal lawmakers, governors and president if their children were schooling abroad.
ASUU Lagos Zone Coordinator, 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 revitalisation 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.’
“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 for not payment of our salaries.
“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.”