…Denies demanding N1.1 Trillion from FG; …Accuses Education minister of misleading public
BY GODWIN OBI
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has disclosed that it decided to embark on an indefinite strike because the federal government has not shown any seriousness in getting students return to schools, stating that none of its demands has been satisfactorily addressed by the Government.
ASUU, in a communique issued after its National Executive Meeting (NEC) held at the University of Abuja on Monday, accused the federal government of being dishonest and deceitful in its dealings with the union.
ASUU, in the document signed by its President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, dismissed claims by Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu that all contentious issues with the union aside that of salary had been resolved and accused him of deliberately misleading the public for political gains.
“NEC observed with regret that the Union had experienced a lot of deceit of the highest level in the last five and half years as the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) engaged ASUU in fruitless and unending negotiation without a display of utmost fidelity.
“NEC noted that ASUU and other well-meaning Nigerians have expressed serious disappointment by and consternation on the attitude of the Government conveyed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who had deliberately misinformed the public and reduced the current struggle of ASUU to the payment of withheld salaries, claiming that all other contentious issues had been resolved. For the avoidance of doubt, however, none of the issues that forced our Union to resume the suspended strike as listed in the December 2020 FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) has been satisfactorily addressed by the Government to date.
“NEC was utterly disappointed in agents of Government, especially the Minister of Education, for the deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation of facts aimed at scoring cheap political gains. It is disheartening to imagine that a Minister whose responsibility it is to resolve the crisis can overnight turn round to lead in this ignoble enterprise of distorting facts and misleading Nigerians. The disdain with which the Minister of Education handled questions about the ongoing ASUU strike at his distasteful Press Conference on Thursday, 18th August, 2022 lends credence to the widespread suspicion that the current Government never believed in saving public universities from the misfortunes that have befallen Nigeria’s public primary and secondary schools
“In view of the foregoing, and following extensive deliberations on Government’s response to the resolution of 14th February, 2022 so far, NEC concluded that the demands of the Union had not been satisfactorily addressed. Consequently, NEC resolved to transmute the roll-over strike to a comprehensive, total and indefinite strike action beginning from 12.01a.m. on Monday, 29th August, 2022. ” It read in parts.
ASUU expressed displeasure towards what it described as “some mischievous Vice-Chancellors and Chairpersons of Governing Councils of State Universities have evolved disingenuous underhand tactics to undermine the current ASUU struggle in their various Universities.
“ASUU struggles are to save Nigerian public universities irrespective of ownership – Federal or State. The Union views with all seriousness the fact that the sanctimonious behaviour of these university administrators and managers does not stop them from accessing yearly grants of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) which ASUU struggles of the 1980s and 1990s brought to life. Neither did their holier-than-thou attitude keep these invidious individuals from jumping into the next flight to come for project defence each time ASUU struggles had translated into some handsome funds for the revitalization of their universities (hostels, laboratories, workshops, lecture theatres, etc.).”
The union confirmed the integrity of the process leading to the agreement reached with government stating “the Briggs Committee has, in a well publicized newspaper advertorial, confirmed that all the proposals and recommendations it made to ASUU were properly discussed and cleared with their Principal. The Committee also confirmed that throughout the renegotiation process, all the relevant government agencies, including National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Budget and Finance and Federal Character Commission (FCC), were in attendance. In addition, the paid advert by the Briggs-led Government Team equally showed that the figure of N1.1 Trillion quoted by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and his Minister of State, Festus Keyamo, and some other government officials as amount needed to implement the salary increase, came from some imaginative blues and was no way close to reality. We commend members of Nimi Briggs-led Team for their unprecedented act of courage. By this singular act, the Team has put the lie to official propaganda against ASUU and the entire renegotiation process. May this race of Nigerians multiply!”
The union vowed to use all legitimate means at its disposal to protect and defend the interests of members in public universities who may be victimised on the account of its ongoing struggles.
“ASUU NEC noted with pains, its concerns for Nigerian students who are also our wards and foster children and condemned Government’s seeming indifference to their plights. The Union empathizes with the students, their parents, as well as other stakeholders (including our colleagues who are undertaking their higher degrees) in the universities. ASUU reaffirms its belief in the sanctity of a stable academic system. Were it within our control, our universities would never have been shut for one day! However, ASUU was forced into taking this painful decision to prevent members of the Nigerian Children from the ruling class and their foreign collaborators from further destroying whatever is left of our public universities. We are all victims. We need the understanding, solidarity and sacrifices of all to ensure that every qualified Nigerian youth who cannot afford the cost of private university education or foreign studies has unhindered access to quality university education. ASUU strikes are aimed at saving public education, and ensuring that Governments (Federal and State) use our common patrimony to support quality public university education. This is our collective obligation.
ASUU lauded efforts by eminent Nigerians and groups to mediate in the lingering crisis.
“ Our Union remains open to reasonable engagements as we have always done. However, ASUU remains focused on the full implementation of the 23rd December, 2020 Memorandum of Action for quick restoration of industrial harmony in Nigeria’s public universities,” It noted.