…As ASUU Threatens Showdown
…Buhari, Religious Leaders Beg
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has hinted at the possibility of an impending industrial action as the national leadership of the union directed its members nationwide to declare lecture-free day, Monday, February 7, in preparation for a possible showdown with the Nigerian government.
Multiple circulars issued by the various branches of the union announcing the decision, noted that the lecture-free day would be used to sensitise the university communities and the general public on the failure of the government to honour an agreement the parties entered into December 2020, and which led to the suspension of a nine-month prolonged strike then.
The new threat comes less than a week after President Muhammadu Buhari pledged the commitment of his administration to fulfilling the agreement with the union.
Buhari made the promise when members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) visited him to share thoughts with him on the lingering issues. While making the pledge, President Buhari, however, pleaded with the union to exercise patience and consider current economic realities.
The last national strike by ASUU was March 2020 and lasted till December when the Memorandum of Action (MoA) was signed. However, a year after signing the MoA, ASUU accused the government of failing to fulfil its side of the bargain and threatened to mobilise for another strike immediately.
The government quickly moved to pay N55 billion as part-payment for the Earned Academic Allowance and Revitalisation Fund, but the union was unmoved until the Nigerian Inter-religious Council (NIREC) and other dignitaries waded in.
ASUU leader speaks
ASUU national president, Emmanuel Osedeke, a professor, confirmed the directive and also that the national body had instructed all the chapters to sensitise the public “on the nobleness of its cause. We are going to have a meeting that day, we will invite as many people as possible to talk about the issue of Nigerian education,” he told our reporter in a telephone interview Saturday”.
ASUU said the Nigerian government partially addressed two of its eight demands, including the visitation panel to federal universities, describing the release of funds for the Earned Academic Allowance and revitalisation funds as ‘partial’. Osodeke said: “Out of all the nine or eight issues, they attempted one or two things, even the issue of the visitation panel they said they set up till now the result is not out after more than one year.”
Lecture free day
Meanwhile, Premium Times has seen the circulars from Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and Bayero University, Kano, informing students of a lecture-free Monday on February 7.
ASUU assured that its actions were in the best interest of the country’s university system, calling on all to join hands with ASUU in its struggle and save the system from collapse.
Parts of the statement from BUK, signed by Haruna Musa and Yusuf Madugu, chairperson and secretary, respectively, read: “ASUU-BUK wishes to inform all stakeholders that any action taken by ASUU would be in the best interest of the Nigerian university system. “The union, therefore, urges all concerned to join hands with ASUU in order to salvage the system from imminent collapse by prevailing on the government to as a matter of urgency implement all the agreements it freely entered with ASUU”. According to the circulars, the various chapters of the union are also going to hold a congress on that day.
ASUU’s demands have barely changed since the signing of the ASUU/FG 2009 agreement.
These demands include the sustainability of the university autonomy, which it said the introduction of IPPIS violates; immediate deployment of UTAS to replace IPPIS; renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement; release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities and distortions in salary payment challenges. Others include funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowance, poor funding of state universities and promotion arrears. (Premium Times)
Buhari, Religious Leaders Beg
Meanwhile, President Buhari commenced the week under review with a promise that the federal government would honour promises made to the university teachers. This , he said, was to prevent disruptive strikes, engender uninterrupted academic programmes and improve funding of education institutions.
President Buhari made the pledge February 1 when he received members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) led by the Co-Chairs, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Samson Ayokunle. He said no society which wished itself well, neglected its educational system and all its component parts. He, therefore, commended the leadership of NIREC for intervening in the year-long strike by ASUU and holding consultations with the parties.
Mr Buhari had earlier hosted the 2022 Committee of Business, Political, Media and Civil Society Leaders to a dinner at the State House, Abuja, on Monday. At the event, the president pledged his commitment to hand over a strong repositioned agriculture-led, diversified home-grown economy, stable democracy and revamped armed and security forces to the next administration.
On February 2, the Nigerian leader congratulated President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau for surviving Tuesday’s coup attempt in his country.
The President also inaugurated the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East, on February 2. According to him, Nigerians in the North-east will, in the coming months, witness a change from the protracted insurgency to peace and development in their respective communities. He explained that the administration had embarked on a revised approach to address the 13-year conflict and insurgency in the region and would not relent in efforts toward a return to peace and normalcy.
Also on February 2, the President presided over the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC). The council approved over N115.4 billion for the dualisation of the Kano-Kazaure-Kongwalam road linking Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states. According to the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the project is expected to be completed in two years, and will be financed through the country’s tax credit scheme. The President met behind closed doors with a former governor of Imo, Rochas Okorocha at the State House, Abuja, on Thursday.
Speaking to state house correspondents after the meeting, Mr Okorocha said he was in the Villa to seek President Buhari’s intervention over his ordeal with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Okorocha is being charged by the EFCC with allegations he conspired with others, including an APC politician and five companies, to steal N2.9 billion from public coffers when he was governor of Imo.
However, the former governor, who is currently the senator representing Imo West senatorial district, also accused the people he described as cowards of being behind his ordeal with the EFCC. Mr Buhari inaugurated the Revised National Policy on Population for Sustainable Development, as well as the National Council on Population Management (NCPM), on Thursday, in Abuja.
While inaugurating the policy and the council, the President stressed the need for urgent measures to address Nigeria’s high fertility rate. He saw this happening through expanding access to modern contraceptive methods across the country.
The Nigerian leader, shortly after the inauguration on Thursday, commenced a four-day trip to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he is currently participating in the 35th Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government.
The theme of the deliberation is: “Building Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: Strengthen Agriculture, Accelerate the Human Capital, Social and Economic Development.’’
While in Addis Ababa, President Buhari said the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria remained top priority for protection and lifting from the poverty cycle. He stated this at the virtual official presentation of the Country Review Report of Nigeria at the 31st Africa Peer Review Forum of the African Union leader on Friday. Mr Buhari assured that social safety nets would be further sustained, while access to education and opportunities would be expanded.
The President also congratulated the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on the conferment of the title of “Dan Amana,” (the trusted one) on him by the Daura Emirate Council, on Saturday. He described the conferment of the title on Amaechi as a clear commitment to the harmonious relationship between the nation’s diverse cultures.
He commended the minister “for working with enormous energy to make the CHANGE we promised Nigerians a reality,” noting that “the change we are witnessing in the transport sector is an extraordinary legacy.”
On February 5, the Nigerian leader met with the Prime Minister of Palestine, Mohammad Shtayyeh, at the ongoing African Union meetings, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. President Buhari assured that Nigeria would continue to pursue peace and progress in Africa, and other parts of the world, by consistently pushing for justice, fairness and inclusiveness in global affairs.
According to him, Nigeria remains unwavering in supporting democracy, development and good governance, particularly in ensuring the rights of individuals and institutions. President, who is expected back to Abuja from Ethiopia on Monday, participated in the opening of the 35th Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government, on Saturday.
(NAN in blueprint.ng)