The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike to press home its demands for the implementation of its 2009 agreement with the Federal Government. The ASUU Lagos Zone Coordinator, Prof. Olusoji Sowande, said this at a news conference on Tuesday in Lagos. Sowande said that the union was planning to toe this part after several efforts to ensure that the government address the pending demands, proved abortive. He said that the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on funding of state universities, breaches of the conditions of service and re-negotiation of the agreement, were still pending. The coordinator also mentioned other demands like the exclusion of Nigerian universities from Pension Management Company and non-release of NEEDS Assessment Intervention Fund.
He said that funding of state universities, earned academic allowance and renegotiation of the agreement were parts of the outstanding issues.
Sowande recalled that the union had embarked on strike in 2012 and 2013 as part of the efforts to make the government implement the agreement, adding that the issues remained unresolved.
He said that the 2009 agreement provided for a periodic review after every three years which had not been done.
“The review of the agreement should have been undertaken in 2012 and 2015 but that did not happen.
“The implication is that our union has shown enough patriotism and understanding on these matters in the last four years.
“We are perplexed and disappointed that both the Federal and State Governments are not responding to our consistent appeals to bring about genuine transformation in the education sector, ‘’ he said.
According to him, embarking on strike has never been a favourable choice as the Students and ASUU members have always suffered the pains more.
“It is unfortunate that the only language government appears to respect and listens to is that of industrial action like strike,”he said.
The don said that the National officers of the union had met with the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu on May 10 and tabled ten-point demand.
He said that the minister had promised that the issues would be resolved within two weeks but nothing had been done till now.
Sowande said that based on MOU signed in November 2013, “Nigerian universities requires N1.3 trillion to revitalise the system’’, adding that the government was already in arrears of N605 billion as at the third quarter of 2016.
He said that the government had refused to release N128 billion and N250 billion respectively for the earned academic allowance of three years after the MoU was signed.
“In order to forestall this avoidable crisis, we appeal to all genuinely progressive individuals and groups to prevail on both the Federal and State Governments to commence release of funds for the listed purposes.
“This is to arrest the brewing and potentially combustible situation in the Nigerian university system before it degenerated into a serious conflagration,” he said.