THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Wednesday suspended its nine months old strike with a strong resolve to immediately resume the industrial action if the federal government fails to abide by the terms of the agreement.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President, said this at a press conference at the end of its emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
The union began the strike on March 23, 2020 to press home its demands for, among other things, the revitalisation of public universities, payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), salary shortfall, constitution of visitation panels, re-constitution of the 2009 FGN/ASUU re-negotiation committee, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
Prof Ogunyemi said the NEC resolved to conditionally suspend the strike action embarked upon on March 23, 2020 with effect from 12 a.m. on Thursday, December 24, 2020.
He stated that “…should government fail to fulfil its own parts of the agreement, ASUU will resume its suspended strike as deemed necessary.
“NEC resolved to accept the agreement reached between ASUU and the Federal Government on Dec. 22 and to also consciously and diligently monitor the implementation of Federal Government-ASUU agreements of Dec. 22, in all branches.
“NEC also resolved to ensure that no ASUU member suffered any loss of deserved benefits as a result of participation in the strike,” he said.
Prof Ogunyemi said that NEC would pursue fervently the areas in the Federal Government-ASUU agreement of 2009 and Memorandum of Action (MoA) 2013 that require legislation such as the mainstreaming of EAA into the annual budget and the Executive Bill in respect of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Act, 2004.
Prof Ogunyemi said ASUU expects from both state and federal governments to faithfully implement all the terms of the agreement reached and signed with the union.
“Therefore the implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC), which had already been constituted to the satisfaction of government and ASUU, will work diligently to ensure that funds released are used to meet genuine revitalisation needs of Nigerian public universities.
“This is with a strict and disciplined supervision of the implementation processes by the universities themselves. To this end, the students and their parents would see the fruits of the struggles of ASUU in their lives.
“The union expects the immediate release of EAA as agreed, the mainstreaming of EAA into annual budget using the agreed formula.
“The union also expects government to immediately engage the universities and other research centres in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is one of the challenges that the universities have been asking the government to throw to Nigerian academics,” he said.
Ogunyemi also called on government to expedite action on the test processes and ensure the development of UTAS for the payment of salaries in the university system, adding that the UTAS software will assist government in its fight against corruption and thus play an important role in maintaining a high stand of accountability in the education sector.
He also said that union expects that government and ASUU re-negotiation exercise would be concluded as specified in the timelines agreed by both parties, among others.
“On our part, we are going back to rekindle the motivation and aspirations in our members to strive to encourage our students to excel, in all the expectations that government will sincerely fulfil their own part of the bargain,” Prof Ogunyemi stated.