After months of industrial peace in the nation’s universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has asked its members nationwide to embark on a one week warning strike from Wednesday, 16th November, 2016 to protest the failure of government to implement the 2009 agreement with the union.
The union is also accusing the government of turning the establishment of universities into constituency projects to score political points, saying the union remains opposed to such establishment.
Addressing a news conference at the end of its emergency National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said despite several efforts by the union to get the government to respect the tenets of their agreement, the government has failed to do do, causing anxiety among lecturers in the universities.
He listed the area of disagreement between the union and government to include payment of fraction do staff entitlement and the denial of staff entitlement in respect of earned academic allowance amounting to about N128 billion, funding of universities for revitalization and the refusal to register the the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company by the National Compensation Commission.
Others include the introduction of the Treasury Single Account shunning said affects university autonomy, decrease in budgetary allocation to education and the refusal by government to renegotiation of the 2009 agreement which was due for renegotiation since 2012.
He said: “Our members across the nation are worried that six months after the meeting with the Minister of Education and a series of letters to amplify the need to respect the spirit and letters of the 2009 agreement and the 2013 MoU, there has been no tangible results of the issues raised.
“This failure puts ASUU leadership in a severe difficulty responding to enquiries from members of the union about the state of affairs in our engagement with the federal government.
“Following a nationwide consultation with out membership, the National Executive Council of ASUU rose from its meeting on Sunday, 13th November with a resolution to embark on a one week warning strike starting from Wednesday, 16th November, 2016.
“The nation wide strike action is total and comprehensive. While if last, there shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meeting of any kind in any of our branches.
“We use this opportunity to call on all education loving Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to prevail on the government to address the patriotic demands of ASUU. For us in ASUU, we shall not surrender until the Nigerian university system is repositioned for transforming the country and global competitiveness.”
On the establishment of more universities by not the federal and state government, he said: “we are not against democratizing university education by providing more opportunities. But we also believe that if government followed the path which if had agreed on, universities will not be made constituency projects as we are beginning to see.
“When you say every state must have a university without doing your home work and every governor think that a university must be established in their constituency, it then means we are not paying attention to quality, but using the establishment of universities to make political point.
“That is what we are against. In other places, what they do as a part of the democratization of university education is to expand facilities, open space for more students to come, me prove the quality of laboratories, library and offices. We are not seeing that happening here. Government is how turning establishment of university into constituency project and that is not acceptable to us.”
Prof. Ogunyomi said the union and Nigerians have not see any light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the change promised by the APC led federal government, saying “this government is not different from the previous one because it is the same ruling class.
“We have not found genuine patriots who will do things differently. Our expectations and hopes were raised when we heard the word change. But what we have had so far is just cosmetic. We have not really had the radical change that Nigerians yearned for.
“A radical departure from from the past has not happened and until that happens, we cannot have a change that will lead to transformation. That is the position of ASUU and we have always said it. Because of the penchant."