The Federal Government, according to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), is not earnest about fixing the problems that prompted its almost six-month protest.
They said they will meet with government representatives today, August 16, and that it was “unfortunate” that the government was trying to persuade its members to end the strike with a pay raise rather than dealing with the problems that are harming university education nationwide.
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On Monday, August 15, Emmanuel Osodeke, the president of ASUU, appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today and criticized the government for only giving lip service to higher education.
“The government’s interactions with us are not honest. This has been the problem throughout.
“What we’re doing is the price we must make in order to rescue this nation and its young people. We are rapidly approaching the collapse of the nation’s academic system. We shall make sure that our university system functions without being worn out.
Despite inviting us to renegotiate the 2009 agreement tomorrow, the administration has not made any significant communications to us (today).
“Financing, organization, autonomy, and ways to collect money for the Nigerian university system are the concerns at hand. However, the administration has narrowed the problem down to simply salaries.
“If the government has thoroughly examined the concerns, we won’t be discussing money. This administration wants to use our salary as leverage.
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“Every university in the world is an independent organization. You don’t make the university perform community service. We are where we are right now because of this.
“In 2017, when Mr. Wale Babalakin was chosen to lead the negotiations, the renegotiation process began. On it, we worked for more than two years.
When Babalakin was fired as the Chancellor of the University of Lagos, that committee ultimately disintegrated. A different individual was chosen.
Every time a new committee is formed, we ask them right away if they have the authority to rewrite the whole agreement with us. Usually, they say yes.
“Consider that we completed negotiations in May 2021, and they promised to contact us. They haven’t responded to us since we began this strike.
Osodeke also referred to Festus Keyamo’s assertion that the government lacked the resources necessary to satisfy ASUU’s requests as a “sad development.” Keyamo is the Minister of State for Labour and Employment.
“It is disappointing that the Federal Government claims it lacks the resources to satisfy our requests. Anyone who has a strong enough will can achieve their goals.
“The government will spend any amount necessary to improve it if it has the will and the conviction that education is crucial.
This administration gave N100 billion to Trader Moni and generated roughly N200 billion to provide schoolchildren with food. These are all above and beyond what we are requesting for the revitalization fund.
Regarding how to end the issue, the ASUU President remarked;
“We have urged the administration to include adequate money in the budget for education.
“When countries like Ghana and South Africa give about 16 percent of its budget, Nigeria has the lowest percentage in all of Africa, at about 5.3 percent.
The strike would end if the government ratifies the agreements reached during the previous sessions.
Osodeke also disclosed that the problems with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, or UTAS, and the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) have been fixed.
“The matter of IPPIS and UTAS has been put to rest. Everything will be resolved if tomorrow the government agrees with us.
IPPIS and UTAS concerns have been resolved in accordance with our agreement with the Chief of Staff,
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