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Blame FG For Another Strike, ASUU-NAU Chairperson Declares

….As Members Protest Non Adoption Of Nimi Briggs Committee Report, Unpaid 3years + Arrears Salaries, Other Issues

By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu

The members of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) , Nnamdi Azikiwe University Branch today, 2nd July 2024 through the Chairperson of the Branch, Professor Kingsley Ubaorji asked the Federal government of Nigeria to adopt the Nimi Briggs Committee Report which, he said was based on the spirit of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.

Speaking during a press conference which preceded the protest march, noted that the Nigerian Academics’ salaries and allowances should be reviewed to meet the present realities, emphasizing that Fourteen years without reviewing their salary was a punishment not deserving for Nigerian Academics, even as he called for funding and revitalization of public universities based on the FGN-ASUU MOU of 2012, 2013, and the MOA of 2017.

Professor Ubaorji called for the release of the 3½ months of the withheld salaries of members of ASUU for services already rendered and the Payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) which was captured in the 2023 Federal Budget.

He called for the release of unpaid salaries of staff on sabbatical, adjunct, etc., due to the incompatibility of IPPIS to the Nigerian University System as well as the release of third-party deductions, which he said IPPIS was illegally withholding.

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‘The reinstatement of the Governing Councils in Federal and State Universities, which were dissolved unlawfully.

‘The adoption and Implementation of UTAS in place of IPPIS in Nigerian Universities.
Putting a stop to the unbridled proliferation of public universities
Implementation of the Reports of the Visitation Panels

‘If the FGN sets its priorities right, all these could be resolved amicably, without any industrial action. But the truth is that the government appears to have been treating these issues with some fun, which our union finds unacceptable.

‘Although the federal government held a meeting with the union last week after more than a year of inaction, we, as a union, want to see necessary actions taken to resolve these lingering issues, which have grave consequences to the Nigerian University System.

‘As a union, we have therefore resolved to engage the media to sensitize the public on the failure of the government to address all the outstanding issues with ASUU. Our union remains committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of academic staff and the overall improvement of the Nigerian University System.

‘We, therefore, call on the government to take immediate and decisive actions to address these critical issues,’ he said

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The University Don who went down memory lane said the government had made commitments and signed agreements with ASUU, detailing timelines and expectations of both parties aimed at developing the Nigerian Universities as conditions for suspending any strike action.

‘As soon as Lecturers resumed, the government and other stakeholders returned to status quo. ASUU would again start writing letters and reminders to the government, which were most often ignored, resulting in another strike action by ASUU.

‘It may interest the general public, especially Nigerian Students, to know that through ASUU struggles, Nigerians have enjoyed the following benefits: Regulated/subsidised tuition fees, The establishment of TETFund and NEEDS Assessment funds that have sponsored critical infrastructural projects in our universities, including lecture classrooms, office blocks, roads, hostels, electricity, etc, Purchase of laboratory equipment as well as the implementation of a reviewed salary structure for lecturers (last reviewed 2009), Partial payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA), Non-victimisation of devoted union members and other victories were made possible by ASUU struggles and strike actions.

The ASUU-NAU Chairperson noted that the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement had been a recurrent decimal in all ASUU industrial actions since 2009 and no government had taken the renegotiation seriously, but during the life of the past administration, negotiation came to a conclusion with the Nimi Briggs Committee.

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‘A document was produced, but the minions in the corridors of power refused to pass it on to the then President for his consideration and approval. Since then no tangible outcome has been recorded in spite of the constructive recommendations of the Committee.

‘Our union, therefore, demands that all renegotiations of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement be rounded off based on the Nimi Briggs Committee resolutions. It may interest you to know that the salaries of Academics in Nigeria have not been reviewed since 2009. That is over fourteen years of being on a static salary structure despite the country’s increasing inflation rate. Aside from the raging inflation, we invite you to compare the wages of our counterparts in other African countries and offer your judgment.

‘It is on record that most of our bright students are turning down the opportunities to join the teaching profession simply because Lecturers in Nigeria are not well-paid. By the time we retire, who will teach our children? Professor Ubaorji queried.

The Two-Time ASUU-NAU Chairperson and current Coordinator ASUU Owerri Zone, Professor Dennis Aribodor joined in the protest march to drive home their demands.