Tony Okafor, Awka
Following the industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), Nnamdi Azikwe University lecturers Awka, Anambra State, have declared a total strike .
The lecturers also rejected the Federal government’s award of salary to university lecturers, describing as insulting the award of 35% increment for professors at bar and 25% for other levels of academics on a take-it-or-leave-it-basis.
Recall that ASUU has been on warning strike since Federal 14 over the re-negotiation of the 2009 FG-ASUU agreement; adoption of UTAS as a replacement for IPPIS as a payment platform, amongst sundry issues.
In a statement on Thursday, the Nnamdi Azikwe University ASUU chairperson, Comrade Stephen Ufoaroh , said in their congress meeting of Tuesday, the lecturers of the university decided to proceed on an indefinite strike until all issues at stake were satisfactorily resolved .
The Lecturers’ statement read in part, “ASUU NAU Congress, held on Tuesday 23rd August, 2022, passed a vote of total confidence and reaffirmed 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.
“Congress 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.
“The Congress noted with dismay the continued imbroglio on the current lingering industrial action, occasioned by intransigence, and lack of commitment by government (both Federal and State) on the genuine demands of ASUU.
“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. Jibril 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.
The Lecturers’ statement further stated, “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.
“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.
“Congress observed that none of the genuine demands of ASUU has been given requisite attention by the FGN.
These are: 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 salaries 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.
“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.”
The statement added,”Against the backdrop of government’s intransigence and lack of commitment to reaching an agreement with ASUU on the contentious issues, after over six (6) months of industrial action, ASUU-NAU 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.”