National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) began a meeting yesterday to decide on whether to continue its six-month strike or call it off.
The crucial NEC parley, which reportedly started at 4pm, was expected to end at midnight. The union commenced the nationwide industrial action on February 14, 2022 and has extended it several times due to its inability to reach substantial agreement with the federal government. On August 1, 2022, ASUU announced another extension of the strike by four weeks. LEADERSHIP gathered that parents and students are keeping their ears open on the outcome of the striking lecturers.
On social media where many have aired their opinions, they appealed to the university teachers to give peace a chance, resume dialogue with the Federal Government, and return to classrooms.
However, a final decision on whether to call off the strike or extend it is expected to be announced this morning. Various ASUU branches have held their congresses during the week and the majority voted for another rollover of an indefinite strike. The renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the replacement of IPPIS with UTAS are the major demands of the striking lecturers.
Meanwhile, the union has lamented that prior to his appointment, the minister of education Adamu Adamu had been in support of ASUU’s agitations/actions, including strikes. The union recalled that Adamu was writing in the lecturers’ favour and urging them to uphold their actions and hold the government to account until the right thing was done.
Speaking yesterday at the University of Jos (UNIJOS), Plateau State, ASUU zonal coordinator, Bauchi Zone, Prof Lawan Abubakar, lamented that Adamu had become the minister of education he had turned against ASUU and misleading and instigating other ministers and the public against the union.
They also urged Nigerians to hold Adamu Adamu, the labour and employment minister, Chris Ngige and the federal government responsible for the strike.
Abubakar said, “You may recall that when asked to comment on ASUU’s submission to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, January 9, 2020, Adamu Adamu said he totally agreed with what ASUU presented, upon which note President Buhari handed him ASUU’s document and directed him to come up with a proposal for an amicable solution.
“For the same Adamu Adamu to now lead his colleagues, the other ministers, to misrepresent facts and mislead the good people of Nigeria against ASUU is rather unfortunate. It is the highest level of unpatriotic disservice a minister would do to his nation, particularly in a sector like Education which is the backbone of the development of any country.
“If this is the way to end the ASUU strike, ASUU-Bauchi Zone is taking exception to it and assuring Adamu Adamu that he is wrong; he has rather succeeded in undermining the future of Nigerian youths and Nigeria. If it would take him six (6) months to only come up with this deceit as a solution to the strike, we then have the right to ask whether he really was serious with Education or stage-managing it.
“It has now come to bare that the minister had all along been deceiving everybody since 2017, as far as ASUU’s agitations in the tenure of this government are concerned. We want the general public to know that the federal government through Adamu Adamu did NOT approach ASUU with any reasonable and acceptable solutions to the issues in contention that led to the current strike,” Abubakar said.
He said the claim of the minister that ASUU had accepted the offers from Government was a blatant lie aimed at scuttling what the Prof Nimi Briggs’ Committee put to resolve the matter, thereby undermining the sincerity of the committee in resolving the issues. He stressed that for the minister to also say that ASUU gave him the condition of payment of their withheld salaries before the strike would be called off was, also, another falsehood.
He explained that if the immediate past accountant -general of the federation, Ahmed Idris, alone, could be alleged to have carted away N170 billon among other looters yet undiscovered, then there is money, and the government cannot claim that it does not have money to fund Education, but rather it is not its priority.
Abubakar said another complicit minister in the negotiations was Ngige who abandoned the negotiations, and then later began pursuing a presidential bid where he went and ‘gave’ a N100 million in purchasing nomination form, only for him to later withdraw and forfeited the money.
“We are now hearing stories of termites eating up documents related to the expenditure of over N17 billion in NSITF (National Insurance Trust Fund), a parastatal in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment where Ngige holds sway as minister. If Ngige would abandon talks with ASUU for his dead-on-arrival presidential bid, one would not expect the minister of education to do the worst to the ministry of his charge,” he added.