THE Nnamdi Azikiwe University branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has announced that the ongoing strike embarked upon by the lecturers has officially been made indefinite.
After a Congress in Awka, the chairman of the union, Comrade Stephen Ufoaroh said UNIZIK is fully in support of the national, zonal and branch leaderships on their stand concerning the strike.
He said: “Against the backdrop of government’s intransigence and lack of commitment to reaching an agreement with ASUU on the contentious issues after over six months of industrial action, ASUU-NAU has 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.
“ASUU NAU Congress reaffirms 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 over 95% of Nigerian students study, and for being a voice for the voiceless citizens of Nigeria”.
It regretted that none of the genuine demands of ASUU has been given requisite attention by the federal government, including 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 salary 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.
According to ASUU, “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. Congress viewed the government promissory note as abdication of responsibility.”
It 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, noting with dismay the continued imbroglio on the current lingering industrial action, occasioned by what it described as the intransigence and lack of commitment by government (both federal and state) on the genuine demands of ASUU.
A statement issued after the meeting further said: “Congress 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. Congress categorically debunked the various claims of Government as lies.
“On government’s negligence and repudiation of the reports of the various government negotiating committees (The Prof. Jibrilf 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% increment for Professors at bar and 25% 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.
“Congress observed that the education of Nigerians is not a priority of government; that the Strike could have been avoided if government had considered education a priority.
“Congress took note of the fruitless effort by the Minister of Education 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.”