Ngige and Ogunyemi

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has conditionally suspended its protracted three-months old industrial action.

The ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, announced it Thursday on conditions that the Federal Government fulfils its part of agreements contained in 2019 Memorandum of Agreements.

ASUU directed lecturers to resume work Friday, 8 February, 2019.

The strike was called off after a two hour meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.

Ngige said after the meeting that eight areas of disagreements were discussed and agreed upon by the two parties, while expressing gratitude to ASUU leadership for their understanding.

According to Prof. Ogunyemi in an address calling of the strike, “Following a careful review of the report of engagements with the Federal Government on proposals for addressing all outstanding in the 2013 MoU and 2017 MoA, NEC resolved that the current strike action by the Union should be suspended conditionally with effect from 12.01 a.m on Friday 8th February, 2019.

“However, should Government fail to fulfill its part of the agreement as reflected in the 2019 Memorandum of Action, ASUU shall resume
its suspended strike action as the Union deems necessary.”

The full text of the ASUU Resident’s address reads:

ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU) NATIONAL SECRETARIAT THE TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU), THURSDAY, 7TH FEBRUARY, 2019, AT NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS HEADQUARTERS, PASCAL BAFYAU HOUSE, ABUJA

Protocol

Friends and compatriots of the Press,
On Sunday, 4th November, 2018, the Academic Staff Union of Universities
(ASUU) resumed its strike action which was conditionally suspended on 14th September, 2017.

The action of 2017 was suspended following the signing of a Memorandum of Action (MoA) in which the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) promised to address the contentious issues within a timeline that was to end in October 2017. While announcing the suspension of the nationwide
action, however, our Union made it categorically clear that “ASUU will not
hesitate to review its position should government renege on the signed
Memorandum of Action”. Predictably, Government implemented the MoA in the breach, thereby forcing ASUU to resume the suspended strike action.

Comrades and compatriots, as we have always argued, the last thing ASUU members love doing is to cause disruption in smooth intellectual engagements with colleagues, friends and students right on our university campuses. This has nothing to do with the dubious advertorial of “non-disruption of academic calendar” by proprietors and administrators of some cash-and-carry universities and other self-styled enemies of ASUU.

Rather, it is about deep-seated pains members of the Union undergo to
prevent strike actions and the equally painful consequences strike
situations bring to all who are genuinely averse to the mercantile
disposition to university education.

Why Strike Action?
The question has been asked time and time again: Why does ASUU like
embarking on strike action that causes disruption and dislocation in the universities?

However, ASUU is strongly convinced that if academics fail to fight the cause of university education, the fate that befell public primary and secondary schools would soon become the lot of the public
university system in Nigeria. ASUU’s advocacy on the need to stem the
continued slide into rot and decay in public universities since the 1980s
has fallen on deaf ears. Our experience, as a trade union, shows that successive governments in Nigeria always entered into negotiated agreements only to placate those pleading the cause – be it education, health, transportation, employment or any other issue of meaningful living.

This proclivity of the Nigerian ruling class, irrespective of which wing of the insensitive stock they belong, must be continually be tracked, engaged and resisted by all people of goodwill. ASUU ‘s action strike, which started on 4th November, 2018, was situated in the context of accumulated records of indifference and lackadaisical attitude of Government to negotiated agreements with the Union. At our
media interaction in University of Lagos on 23rd December, 2018, we
highlighted the outstanding issues in the crisis to include the following:

– Funding for the revitalization of Public Universities based on the
FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA of 2017

– Reconstitution of the current Government Team to allow for a leader and Chairman of the FG-ASUU Renegotiating team who has the interest of the nation and the people at heart.

– Release of the forensic audit report on Earned Academic allowances
(EAA), offsetting the outstanding balance of the EAA and mainstreaming of same into the 2018 budget.

– Payment of all arrears of shortfall in all universities that have met
the verification requirements of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous
Audit (PICA)

– Provision of a platform by the federal government for ASUU to engage Governors on the proliferation of universities, underfunding of university education and undue interference in the affairs of the universities

– Release of PFA operational license to NUPEMCO

– Payment of EAA to loyal ASUU members at the University of Ilorin

A new Memorandum of Action and Our Resolution

To date, ASUU has had a total of ten (10) interactive meetings with
representatives of FGN which have culminated into a Memorandum of Action of 2019. Highlights of the MoA include the following:

1. In addition to the N20 billion for 2018, the sum of N25 billion only would be released in April/May 2019, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013.

2. Part-payment of the outstanding arrears of the earned academic
allowances; defraying the balance up to 2018 in 4 tranches within 36
months; and mainstreaming further payments of EAA into the annual
budgets beginning from 2019 budget.

3. PICA verification and the release of the arrears of salary shortfall at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, not later than 15th February 2019.

4. Strengthening the Consultative Committee on State-owned
Universities (CCSOU), inaugurated on Monday, 28th January, 2019 to
look into the issues of proliferation, underfunding and governance to
consistently deliver on its mandate.

5. Payment of the outstanding EAA arrears of all eligible staff in the University of Ilorin, especially the loyal ASUU members whose
appointments were illegally terminated by today, 7th February, 2019.
6.

Acknowledgement and appreciation of Government for facilitating
the release of the final letter of approval for the granting of
operational license to NUPEMCO.

7. Visitation to all Federal Universities would commence tentatively by 11th March, 2019.

8. Provision of documented guidelines on procedures and roles of
parties in the process of renegotiating FGN-ASUU Agreement of 2009 which would commence not later than 18th February 2019 and end by Friday 29th March, 2019.
Based on the initial proposals from Government, the Union made extensive consultations through its various organs. The final level of consultation was the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) which took place 6th -7th February, 2019.

NEC resolved that:
Following a careful review of the report of engagements with the Federal Government on proposals for addressing all outstanding in the 2013 MoU and 2017 MoA, NEC resolved that the current strike action by the Union should be suspended conditionally with effect from 12.01 a.m on Friday 8th February, 2019.

However, should Government fail to fulfill its part of the agreement as reflected in the 2019 Memorandum of Action, ASUU shall resume
its suspended strike action as the Union deems necessary.

Conclusion
ASUU notes, with serious concern, the covert and overt roles of some vice chancellors in the management and application of funds attracted by our Union to Nigeria’s public universities. Consequently, we condemn, in the strongest terms, Vice-Chancellors who have made efforts to undermine and, in some cases, attempted to break our patriotic struggles for the
revitalization of public universities in Nigeria.

ASUU will not shy away from taking headlong those Vice-Chancellors who are reputed for acts of impunity, nepotism and other forms of conduct which are antithetic to university culture and the progressive development of our universities. Our
union will compile all their shenanigans and forward them to relevant authorities for further action.

Finally, ASUU acknowledges the understanding and support demonstrated by patriotic Nigerian students and their parents all through the strike period. We equally appreciate the comradely assistance from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), represented by the newly re-elected President, Comrade Ayuba Waba, who has stood by us throughout the struggle. We also
acknowledge the solidarity of the civil society organisations, especially
the Joint Action Front (JAF) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), and members of the progressive wing of the media who have consistently partnered with us in our mission to rescue Nigerian public universities from imminent collapse.

While we put a closure to this phase of the struggle, it is our hope and
desire that the Nigerian governments (Federal and State) will play the
roles expected of them in order to make the new Memorandum work.

We shall never abandon our obligation to ensure the survival of a sound university system. For ASUU, the struggle certainly continues!
Thank you for listening.

Biodun Ogunyemi,

President

7th February, 2018