By Jacinta Nwanchukwu/Funmilayo Adeyemi
The Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria (ASUU) has commenced an indefinite nationwide strike due to the Federal Government’s failure to fulfil the terms of the 2009 agreement made with the union.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, President of the union disclosed this at a news conference on Monday in Abuja.
Ogunyemi said the decision to embark on the industrial action was resolved at its emergency National Executive Council meeting held on Aug. 12.
According to him, during the strike, “there shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meetings of any kind in any of our branches till government meets the union’s demands “.
The industrial action actually took effect from Aug. 13.
“The foundation of development of any nation lies on its attention to education. No nation can grow beyond the level of its educational development.
”Any genuine move to transform Nigeria into an economically viable and politically stable country must begin with a firm commitment to an all round transformation of the country’s education.
”ASUU has been vociferous on the primacy of the university education system because it is the repository of ideas for invention, innovation and national transformation.
“It is, however, disappointing that despite the prime importance of university education, the political class in Nigeria has continued to pay mere lip-service to addressing to lose the little gains achieved from the struggles of ASUU,’’ he said.
The ASUU president stated that the Wale Babalakin-led committee set up by the Federal Government lacked the powers to resolve the issue as there were unimplemented items in the 2009 agreement.
He said that government had ignored the system, stressing that the political class had also shifted attention to sending their wards to private universities and universities abroad leaving public universities in Nigeria to collapse.
”Among the issues in current disputes involved in the 2009 agreement and 2013 MOU are funding for the revitalisation of public universities and earned academic allowances.
“Others include registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), University staff school, fractionalisation and non payment of salaries,’’ Ogunyemi said.
Ogunyemi, however, called on all patriots to prevail on owners of public universities to be alive to their responsibilities, adding that Nigerian university system should be given the attention they deserve.
NAN recalls that in Jan., President Muhammadu Buhari approved a 16-man committee, headed by Dr Wale Babalakin, to renegotiate the 2009 Federal Government agreement with the staff unions in the Federal Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.
The committee was constituted with a view to engendering sustainable peace and industrial harmony in tertiary institutions.