ASUU strike continues despite FG release of N163 billion

ASUU urges FG to take out IPPIS as condition to call off strike
Ogunyemi

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, rose from its negotiation meeting with the Federal, declaring that the strike it has embarked upon would continue.

This is despite Federal Government’s release of N163 billion to the universities from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund.

It would be recalled that ASUU started a nationwide strike on November 5, 2018 to enable the government address, among other things, some areas of understanding in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action agreed in 2017.

It is also pressing for the government to address the  shortfall in salaries of some Federal Universities’ workers and lecturers, earned allowances, revitalisation that were part of the 2009 agreement.

Speaking on the Monday meeting, the President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said “the strike is still on,’’ because there were still some grey areas to be looked at.

He said once ASUU looked at the areas, it would get back to the government.

Ogunyemi said:  “The most critical area is the revitalisation because it is central to our work, as academics and unless that area is addressed our members will have issues with ongoing action.

“We also did not ask for N50 billion, we are saying that the minimum we expect government to release in order to reactive the revitalisation fund is N50 billion.

“So, the strike is still on.’’

Explaining the steps taken in the negotiation, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the government had agreed to fund revitalisation.

His words:  “Government has released about N163 billion from TETFund account to universities.

“So, we have gotten some substantial agreement in most of the areas of the agreement.

“Most of the issues have been resolved, so they are going to go back to their members and present government’s offer to their council.”

The minister said it was not true that ASUU was demanding for N50 billion before they could call off the strike.

He said the total money demanded by the union was beyond N50 billion and that the government was paying in different compartments.

The debts, he said, were debts owed by past administration as far back as 2009.

“These are debts of 2009, owed by the past administration, that is 2009 to 2012, so it is not our own debt and we have been doing a lot to settle these debts.

“So, we will be reconvening at the instance of ASUU. They said they want to go and consult with their members and they cannot call off the strike without consulting with their members,’’ he said.

Addressing the meeting earlier, Ngige who spoke about the resolve of President Muhammadu Buhari to end the strike said:  “The president has directed me to pass the night here until all issues that have kept our children away from schools are resolved and strike called off.

“He has also directed me to impress upon you, the imperative of little sacrifice from all sides, knowing fully well that the revenue of the federation has dwindled from what it was before the present administration assumed office…

“Mr. President told me to assure you of his determination to reposition our universities as he would do everything possible to cast the present challenges in our tertiary education to dustbin of history.”