By Chienyenwa Chukwuemeka
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has suspended its three months strike following a meeting held yesterday at Nigeria Labour Congress Headquarters, Pascal Bafyau House, Abuja, with Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, and his Education counterpart, Mallam Adamu Adamu.
According to ASUU chairman, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the strike began on Sunday, 4th November, 2018, due to the inability of the government to implement several agreements with the Union on improved staff welfare; funding of public universities; and infrastructural development in tertiary institutions.
Ogunyemi, said that the action strike was situated in the context of accumulated records of indifference and lackadaisical attitude of Government to negotiated agreements with the Union.
“At our media interaction in University of Lagos on 23rd December, 2018, we highlighted the outstanding issues in the crisis to include the following, Funding for the revitalization of Public Universities based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA of 2017- Reconstitution of the current Government Team to allow for a leader and Chairman of the FG-ASUU Renegotiating team who has the interest of the nation and the people at heart.
Second is the Release of the forensic audit report on Earned Academic allowances (EAA), offsetting the outstanding balance of the EAA and mainstreaming of same into the 2018 budget.
Thirdly, is payment of all arrears of shortfall in all universities that have met the verification requirements of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous
Audit (PICA) and
Provision of a platform by the federal government for ASUU to engage
Governors on the proliferation of universities, underfunding of university education and undue interference in the affairs of the universities”, Ogunyemi added.
In addition to the above mentioned, are also, Release of PFA operational license to NUPEMCO and payment of EAA to loyal ASUU members at the University of Ilorin.
Going further, he said that the highlights of the MoA also included an agreement to add to the N20 billion for 2018, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013, part-payment of the outstanding arrears of the earned academic allowances; defraying the balance up to 2018 in 4 tranches within 36 months; and mainstreaming further payments of EAA into the annual budgets beginning from 2019 budget,
PICA verification and the release of the arrears of salary shortfall at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, not later than 15th February 2019, Strengthening the Consultative Committee on State-owned Universities (CCSOU), inaugurated Monday, 28th January, 2019 to look into the issues of proliferation and underfunding and payment of the outstanding EAA arrears of all eligible staff in the University of Ilorin, especially the loyal ASUU members whose appointments were illegally terminated.
In addition to the aforementioned are knowledgement and appreciation of Government for facilitating the release of the final letter of approval for the granting of operational license to NUPEMCO, and visitation to all Federal Universities would commence tentatively by 11th March, 2019, Provision of documented guidelines on procedures and roles of parties in the process of renegotiating FGN-ASUU Agreement of 2009 which would commence not later than 18th February 2019 and end by Friday 29th March, 2019.
However, the ASUU chairman quickly pointed out that the Union may not continue the strike if the government do not fulfill its promise. His words, “Should Government fail to fulfill its part of the agreement as reflected in the 2019 Memorandum of Action, ASUU shall resume its suspended strike action as the Union deems necessary.”
Meanwhile, Dr Ngige, who was expressive in his joy at the outcome of the meeting promised that the implementation of the agreement between ASUU will be a continuous process.
READ MORE: ASUU Strike: FG Releases N163bn To Universities
Reading the agreement signed by both parties, the Labour Minister explained that, “This is going to be a conclusive meeting and conciliatory meeting between Federal Government and ASUU. This dispute culminated into a strike that started on the 5th of November, 2018. The both parties unanimously resolved the eight contentious issues that had prolonged the strike. The issue of the NUMPENCO has been resolved as ASUU collected the licence on the 28th January, 2019.”
The Minister stated further that the Visitation panel has also been instituted and will commence work on 2nd March with the view to sanitizing the tertiary