The Oasis Reporters
August 18, 2017
Despite assurances by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu on Thursday that the on-going strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the main umbrella body of University lecturers in the country would be called off next week, feelers from the Union show the contrary .
Speaking in Abuja when he appeared before the Senator Jibrin Barau-led Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, he disclosed that the executive arm of government has commenced plans to ensure that it honours the agreement between the federal government and ASUU.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Jibrin Barau, commended the Minister for efforts so far made by his ministry towards ensuring that the situation is resolved and the industrial action is called off.
On the other hand, emerging from a closed door meeting with the government team, the ASUU president, Biodun Ogunyemi has indicated that a sticking point to calling off the strike action remained one thing : the TSA.
It was gathered that the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the demand of the union that universities should be exempted from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
This was the main reason why the Federal Government’s efforts to make the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) call off it’s nationwide strike failed on Thursday as it’s meeting with the union ended.
The TSA was a creation of the former presidency led by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan whereby all Federal government revenues went into it. But in his wisdom, Jonathan exempted some agencies from it’s participation which worked well for the nation.
President Buhari who came in to power on the riding crest of Change agenda, canceled all exemptions in an uncompromising fashion, thereby critically hurting most government services and inducing the worst recession in Nigeria’s 57 year history as a nation.
Acting President Osinbajo has upturned some of Buhari’s policies to assist the national economy, but recent targeted pilgrimages to Buhari in London and the release of video footages to let the nation know that his image must still loom large over the acting President and the Federal Executive Council has given the government cold feet. No one wants to tamper with Buhari’s cherished albeit rigid policies in order not to offend him. Preferring rather that the nation suffer.
Therefore while the Federal Government asked the lecturers to end their strike, both parties did not agree on the TSA and ASUU consequently rejected the FG’s request to call it off.
However, the government admitted wrongdoing and appealed to the lecturers to call off the strike immediately, but the appeal was rejected by ASUU leaders, who pleaded for time to meet their members because of the TSA.
ASUU commenced a nationwide strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 agreement between the two sides on Sunday.
In a press conference, ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, listed the areas in dispute in the current industrial action to include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, the registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company and pension matters, fractionalisation and non-payment of salaries and the issue of universities’ staff schools.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, Minister for Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, stated that the government was expecting a feedback from ASUU on the overtures made to it, adding that the union promised to return to the negotiation table within one week.
Labour and Employment Minister, Chris Ngige, explained that the government position was drafted by the Ministers of Education (Adamu Adamu); Finance, (Kemi Adeosun); the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and himself, which was communicated to ASUU.
“Within the last 48 hours, the government has been working; the Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, Attorney General of the Federation met and we have taken some government positions which we have communicated to ASUU leaders to take back to their members to see if that is adequate enough for them to call off the strike,” he stated.
“The major issue is that we want the strike called off so that our children in school can write their degree and promotion exams. ASUU leaders said they will come back to us on a date within the next one week. It will not be later than one week.”
On the other hand , Biodun Ogunyemi said he would not go into the specifics of the offers made by the government until he met with his members but made it known that the union would not call off the strike.
“Like the minister said, government has made offers on the issues we have raised, but we have to get back to our members for them to consider the offers and advise us. Based on their position, we will come back to government, hopefully within the next one week,” he said.
“The offers are for our members and when we meet with them, we will come back and reveal all we agreed on.
“The leadership of the union did not call the strike, our members did, and they will decide when to suspend the strike.”
Meanwhile students were observed in various university campuses idling away, and grumbling that practically all government bigwigs have their children schooling in universities abroad while they suffer the disruptions in their academic calendars because government is not doing the right thing.
However, students in the University of Ilorin were seen in lecture theatres, because traditionally, they do not join in disruptive agendas of strike actions.