Education

Strike Matter: FG Vs ASUU.

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The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu
Adamu, yesterday assured Nigerians that the
industrial action embarked upon by the
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)
may end in two days.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian
yesterday in Abuja, the minister noted that the
administration led by President Muhammadu
Buhari has a policy of engaging unions,
including ASUU.
Adamu also held a closed-door meeting with
the leader of the Federal Government
Renegotiation Team, Dr. B. O Babalakin (SAN).
The minister had, in January, inaugurated the
16-member team to renegotiate the 2009
agreement.
The committee, headed by Babalakin, was
given the mandate to dialogue with ASUU,
Senior Staff Association of Nigerian
Universities (SSANU), National Association of
Academic Technologists (NAAT) and Non-
Academic Staff Union of Associated and Allied
Institutions (NASU) to ensure sustainable
peace and industrial harmony in tertiary
institutions.
According to him, the Federal Government is
doing all it can to address the frequent closure
of universities in the country. “I hope and
believe that this would be a one or two days
strike. We have a policy of engaging the
unions, including ASUU and I think now we
are very serious. This is the first time in two
years that ASUU is declaring a strike,” Adamu
said.
When The Guardian spoke with Babalakin,
shortly before the closed-door meeting with
the minister, he confirmed the talks with
ASUU after it embarked on an indefinite strike.
Babalakin also assured that the industrial
action would not be prolonged.
The Secretary-General, Committee of Vice
Chancellors (CVC), Prof. Michael Faborode,
described the strike as a result of the
“mishandling and non-demonstration of
sincerity by the government on the state of
our education from primary to tertiary level.”
Faborode who made the comment in a
statement yesterday in Abuja, stated that the
NEEDS Assessment conducted in 2012 was
clear about some bad things in Nigerian
universities. Yet government after government
play around with the future and destiny of the
country, while more and more government
officials and the rich send their children to
oversees leaving the institutions to decay.
“There should have been no strike with
forthright engagement with the education
sector, but we have been playing to the
gallery, while serious apprehension persists
about the state of our education from primary
to tertiary level,” he said.
According to Faborode, Nigerians are too
eager to complain about the quality of
education and that no Nigerian university is
highly rated globally.
“The way forward is a visible pragramme. It is
very obvious that the nation is handling
education with levity and disturbing
insincerity and we have to face the reality.
Pretending or hoping that we can continue to
patch-patch without serious soul-searching
and redefinition of purpose will be wishful
thinking,” he said.
Meanwhile, ASUU, University of Ibadan
chapter has inaugurated a strike monitoring
committee to ensure an effective prosecution
of the industrial action.
The committee headed by Prof. Gbenga Olujide
is empowered to ensure that no member of the
union engages in any sabotage or does
anything that can jeopardise the collective
interests of the union while the strike lasts.
Making the announcement at a well-attended
congress of the union, ASUU chairman at UI,
Dr. Deji Omole stated that the university
teachers were pushed to the wall before taking
the painful decision to embark on the strike
after giving government sufficient time to
attend to their demands without positive
results.
According to Omole, all examinations in the
university as well as all other academic
activities including the delivery of inaugural
lectures remain suspended.
Omole told the congress that the Federal
Government and the ruling class were waging
war against the poor masses by deliberately
under-funding public universities where their
future lies.
According to Omole, it is sad that after a six-
month strike in 2013, only N200billion has
been released and that till date the Federal
Government is owing federal universities
N880billion intervention fund as well as
N128billion earned academic allowances.
He said that rather than funding existing
universities, the Federal Government was
more interested in turning the establishment
of public universities to constituency projects,
adding that the Buhari-led government had
been dealing with ASUU deceitfully.
According to Omole, there is no way Nigerian
universities can compete with others that are
well-funded and equipped with modern
facilities as well as have a well-motivated and
well-paid workforce.
“How can we say change begins with me when
those leading us are not leading by examples,
or what can we say when the daughter of the
president graduated abroad and that of the
Senate president too? Even the Goodluck
Jonathan administration did better in funds
allocated to education.
“This APC government has allocated six per
cent to all cadres of education from the
primary to tertiary education level. That
explains why Nigeria is not developing, since
no nation can ever grow more than the quality
of education of that country. We are prepared
to suffer to secure the future of our children.
All of us will suffer during this strike but we
believe that nothing good comes easily,” he
said.
But the Minister of Labour and Employment,
Dr. Chris Ngige accused ASUU of not
complying with the relevant labour laws in
declaring industrial disputes with the Federal
Government.
Ngige, who spoke in Abuja yesterday, through
the Deputy Director (Press) in the ministry,
Samuel Olowookere, specifically cited Section
41 of Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, 2004, which
stipulates a notice of 15 days before a strike
could be embarked upon by any union in the
country.
“It is important to note that ASUU did not
follow due process in the declaration of the
industrial action as it did not give the Federal
Government the mandatory 15 days’ notice as
contained in the Section 41 of Trade Disputes
Act, Cap T8, 2004. In fact, it was on Monday
14th August, 2017 that the Office of the
Minister received a letter dated 13th August,
2017 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it
commenced the strike,” Ngige alleged.
The minister, who failed to enumerate steps
taken so far to address the grievances of ASUU
in the last two years, reminded the union that
there was an ongoing renegotiation of the
2009 agreement between the Federal
Government and ASUU by the Babalakin
Committee which the Federal Government set
up on Monday 13th February 2017. He added
that the committee was already addressing all
the issues ASUU raised.
Educating ASUU on the workings of the
International Labour Organisation (ILO)
conventions, Ngige said it was against the
spirit of social dialogue and Collective
Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for ASUU to
embark on strike as enunciated in the ILO
Convention.
He appealed to the university teachers to
suspend the industrial action. “The Federal
Government appeals to ASUU to consider
students who are currently writing degree and
promotion examinations and call off the strike
and return to the negotiation table,” he said.
He pledged that this time around, his ministry
would ensure that a time frame is tied to the
negotiation.

About Nwagboso Ifeanyi

My name is Nwagboso Ifeanyi...I am a World technical blogger/Journalist. I just love Sharing Gossips!.

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