There are clear indications that Nigerian universities may not resume on March 14 as expected. On February 14, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on a warning strike to demand the full implementation of outstanding issues in ASUU-FGN MoUs and December 2020 MoA. However, the strike has yielded no positive result.
Since the suspension of academic activities in Nigerian Universities, we followed the situation and rising events with keen interest and concluded that ASUU Strike may not be called off soon.
Here is why.
1. 1.3 Trillion: A “Huge” Demand Government Cannot Afford?
In this interview with Channels Television, the Honourable Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige says that the Federal Government does not have the funds to meet the demand of ASUU.
According to him, the promise to pay 1.3 trillion was made by President Goodluck’s administration when the country was buoyant enough and could afford it. However, given the economic crises that has befelled the Buhari’s tenure, the ASUU 1.3 trillion demand is not feasible.
“Government is a continuum. The N1.3 trillion you are talking about was promised by the Jonathan government. Oil was selling about $100 to $120 per barrel then and the revenue of the federation was rich;
“Government said we don’t have money to pay for it: this was the agreement in 2016 to 2017 but we will find a way by which we can fund the universities and revitalise institutions.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buahri amidst this crisis donated a sum of $1 million to Afghanistan to ease their humanitarian situation.
2. For ASUU, Renegotiation is a Capital NO!
Reacting to these claims by the Federal Government, Mr Odukoya, the coordinator of Lagos Zone of ASUU says that there is no basis for renegotiation. For him, reconvening to explore other options is unwarranted. What the union needs is the action itself and not a memorandum of understanding or action.
“There is really nothing on ground to warrant ASUU conveying either congress or national executive committee meeting. The government isn’t serious yet and we have stated very clearly at the beginning that there is no longer any room for memorandum of understanding or action, but the action itself.”
3. The UNIABUJA & BUK Congress Resolutions
Similarly, the University of Abuja and Bayero University Chapters of ASUU insist that ASUU strike continues until all conditions are met.
Both institutions considers the revisitation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement as “an attempt to delay the implementation of the already negotiated document.” In other words, the government is playing delay tactics.
Therefore, universities should remain shutdown until the government takes the demand of the striking lecturers seriously.
Here are the copies of the UNIABUJA and BUK Congress Resolutions:
4. The IPPIS Fraud & N416,000 Ridiculous Monthly Salary of University Professors
For ASUU, the government payment software platform, IPPIS is a monumental fraud and should be replaced with their homegrown UTAS. This however does not sit well with the government as it insists that IPPIS remains the most credible payment platform.
Speaking with Channels Television, Chris Ngige said that UTAS failed the credibility test it was subjected to thereby making it vulnerable and unusable. According to him, UTAS didn’t garner an 80% as ASUU claimed. Albeit, when asked if the government’s IPPIS was subjected to the same test, the honourable minister ignored the question.
Reacting, ASUU claims that the software testers recruited by the government for the vulnerability test were biased.
Appalling also is the N416,000 monthly salary of University Professors in Nigeria. Since 2009, university lecturers have been receiving the same amount without any increase, despite the inflation and rising inflation rates over the years. By comparison, the monthly salary of an apex officer in the university system is an entry income for some employees.
Reeling from the conversations that have followed the ASUU strike and the tone and body language of Union, there is no hope in sight for students of government-owned universities. There might be an extension of the one-month warning strike as the government has refused to show commitment to the plights of the Academic Union.
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