…may embark on indefinite strike
…as president slams ministers
As the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ends its second round of the eight-week warning strike, the Union’s next step remains hazy.
Although sources close to the union have hinted at the possibility of an indefinite strike given the Federal Government’s lackadaisical attitude toward the lecturers’ demands, which might be decided and made public Monday.
After several attempts to reach ASUU’s National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, he revealed that the union was in a crucial meeting which was still on going as at 8:30pm, to decide on how best to proceed.
He said: “We are presently in a meeting.”
However, speaking with another medium earlier, he had said that the union had yet to receive any notice of meeting from any Federal Government ministry.
“No, we have received any notice of a meeting from them. They didn’t call us. We are not begging them to meet with us and we will not go to them if they do not invite us. It’s part of his political campaign, we didn’t receive any invite,” he said.
When asked what would be ASUU’s decision at the end of its two-month rollover strike which ended on Friday, Osodeke said, “My people will decide.”
Osodeke also berated some ministers in the administration of the President Muhammadu Buhari for buying the nomination forms to contest for the presidential seat in 2023.
He explained that the strike was in its 12th week and yet no intervention from the government. He added that the ministers had not called ASUU for any meeting but could raise money to buy nomination forms.
The union had earlier gone on a month’s warning strike on February 14 this year, and extended it by another eight weeks which comes to an end today, May 9, 2022.
Recall that the minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, had last week said that the Federal Government would resume negotiations with ASUU this week, with a view to end the prolonged warning strike.
Ngige had noted that the multiple industrial disputes in the education sector could have been averted if the unions in the sector took advantage of his open door policy like the health unions, which culminated in the peace currently enjoyed in the health sector.
He assured that the government was tackling all the disputes in the education sector holistically, knowing fully well that none of the unions could function effectively without the other union.
Ngige maintained that the reason behind the rumpus in the industrial milieu were economic, bordering on money and welfare, including old arrears and 2009 renegotiation of Conditions of Service.
“I believe that if we talk frankly to ourselves, knowing fully well that the economy is not good and that you should have money that can take you home. With an open mind, we will arrive at something. Once we arrive at something, It will be done.”
Incidentally, a number of ministers crucial to finding a resolution to the lingering strike are busy campaigning to become president next year.
Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, was the first of many aspirants to obtain copies of the Nomination and Expression of Interest forms to vie for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Nwajiuba is not the only minister on the list as Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and other presidential aides are currently vying for various offices at federal and state levels.
However, reacting to this, the ASUU president said: “You can’t solve the little problem in your ministry and you want to go and rule the country, he is making fun of us, how did they raise the money. I’m tired of this country, they are not serious. We are not politicians, what we want them to do is take up the education system.
“Nigerians should vote for people who will take care of the system, education system, take care of them. It is about the Nigerian people, it is not about ASUU, when Nigerians take over this struggle, we will go back to class and it is in their hands to elect the best people to the government.”
While reacting to the government’s claim that it had no funds to meet ASUU’s demands, Osodeke said: “We are hearing that from the press, they didn’t tell us they don’t have money but they can have billions for the subsidy, the country is a joke they are making fun of all of us.”
Some of ASUU’s demands include the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the UTAS payment platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.