Federal Government on Monday unveiled plans to end the ongoing nationwide strike embarked on by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The leadership of the Union had after its National Executive Council NEC meeting held in Akure, Ondo state on Sunday, directed all its members in all public institutions to withdraw their services as from Monday, 5th November, 2018.
The ASUU industrial action started barely 24 hours from the nationwide strike action declared by the three labour centres: Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Tree Union Congress (TUC) and United Labour Congress (ULC) aimed at pressing home the demand for N30,000 new national minimum wage.
Speaking on Federal Government’s intervention, Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education who spoke at a press briefing in Abuja, blamed the delay in the implementation of the agreement signed by both parties on weak financial base of the Federal Government.
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He however observed that previous administrations made bogus promises to the academic based unions when the economy was quite buoyant.
But the minister said he highly regrets the action of ASUU as he equally shares in their pain.
His words, “I must say that this is difficult to reconcile with all the efforts and positive achievements we have been able to make.
” Let me begin by saying that the Issues necessitating this strike dates back to 2009 when the then government of late President Umaru Musa Yar Adua signed an agreement with the ASUU on funding of the federal universities in the country.
“The agreement provided for funding of Universities to the tune of N1.3trillion over a period of six years. It is instructive to know that Nigeria was experiencing the oil boom at that time. It was therefore expected that government will be able to meet the terms of agreement.
“However, international oil prices crashed in subsequent years thereby throwing the country into economic hardship, at the inception of this administration the country’s economic fortunes worsened, nose diving into recession, with dire consequences on all sectors of the economy, including education.
“We exited recession not too long ago, and we are just beginning to recover from the consequences of low oil prices, which are happily beginning to pick up.
“If this trend continues, definitely, the education sector will also improve, in other words, the wellbeing of the education sector and any other sector of the country’s economy is a function of the international oil prices, this is the stack reality for now which all of us must acknowledge and accept.
“Against this background I want to appeal to all Nigerian parents, students and in particular women and men of ASUU to continue to exercise restraint in terms of their response to the plight of the education sector.
“We must also be mindful that there are other sectors with similar competing needs, if our universities produce graduates, such graduates must work in other sectors of the economy which must also be supported by government,” the Minister urged.
Speaking at the
Biodun Ogunyemi while announcing the commencement of the strike had re-echoed the insincerity of government in meeting their demands.
Ogunyemi had said, “having waited patiently for action and meaningful negotiation with reasonable men using the principle of collective bargaining that ASUU at its NEC meeting of 3rd and 4th November 2018 at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) resolved to resume the nationwide strike action it suspended in September 2017 with immediate effect.
“This strike will be total comprehensive and indefinite. Our members shall withdraw their services until government fully implement all outstanding issues as contained in the MOA of 2017, and concludes the renegotiation of the 2009 agreements.
“We have today been subjected to 20 years of continued re-colonization under alleged democracy in which all that the ruling circle have been regrouping among themselves in their various faction they called political parties.”
The ASUU President had also buttressed the necessity of the strike when he said the release of a paltry N20 billion revitalization fund was despite the fact that the same government released N1.3 trillion to a distressed bank recently.
Ogunyemi also argued that the government was not interested in public universities as the children of the top politicians and rich men in the society patronize private universities at the detriment of public institutions.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja