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HomePoliticsFG’ll look into ASUU’s grievances, strike threat – Ngige

FG’ll look into ASUU’s grievances, strike threat – Ngige

On Wednesday, Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, stated that the Federal Government would investigate the threat posed by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

The majority of the union’s grievances, according to the minister, were lodged with the ministries of Education, Communications, and Digital Economy.

In an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, Ngige stated this.

ASUU had threatened to go on an indefinite strike several times in the past, citing the Federal Government’s failure to honor some of the agreements it had signed with it.

ASUU went on a nine-month strike in 2020, which ended in December of that year.

The union issued new threats in 2021, giving the federal government a three-week deadline to address the union’s grievances. Following the payment of N22.1 billion in earned allowances and the release of N30 billion in revitalisation funds to universities, the union decided to call off the strike.

Some members of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council, led by the co-chairmen, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Samson Ayokunle, paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to express their disappointment with the government’s failure to implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed with ASUU in 2009 and other agreements.

Buhari stated at the meeting that the government was committed to keeping its promises to the union.

“You know that we at the Ministry of Labour are not their employer; the Education ministry is their employer. Our job here is to act as reconciliatory officers.

“The President has mandated his Chief of Staff and the Minister of Education as well as the Ministry of Labour to step in, but my job is to step in as the reconciliatory officer if both sides refuse to settle their grievances. We will surely look into the matter.”

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‘FG deliberately destroying educational system’

Despite this, ASUU issued directives to its chapters, encouraging members to continue mobilizing in preparation for the upcoming strike.

“The truth is that ASUU’s grievances are with the NUC, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy,” Ngige told one of our correspondents. The issues are the deployment of their UTAS and the university White Paper report.

On Wednesday, the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, chapter of the union accused the federal government of destroying the country’s educational system on purpose.

At a press conference on campus, the union claimed that the federal government was forcing it to close all public universities across the country.

“The Federal Government is a deliberate serial defaulter in terms of honouring its agreements; it is in arrears of several billions of naira in terms of the Nation Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS Assessment funds and the earned academic allowances,” he stated.

Since 2009, the Federal Government has consistently failed to honor the Memoranda of Understanding and Memoranda of Action it signed with the union, according to ASUU FUTO Chairman Chinedu Ihejirika.

According to MOUAU ASUU chair, FG is a serial defaulter on pacts.

According to the ASUU chapter at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture in Umudike, Abia State, the federal government is a serial defaulter when it comes to honoring agreements.

Prof Chike Ugwuene, the chairman of the chapter, addressed a press conference after the meeting in Umuahia on Tuesday, listing various unresolved grievances the union had with the government, which he said dated back 13 years.

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The conference was attended by Prof Uzo Onyebinama, Chairman of ASUU Owerri Zone, and Charles Ononuju, former Investment Secretary of the union.

Dr Happiness Uduk, the Chairperson of ASSUU at the University of Uyo, has chastised the Federal Government for being indifferent to the plight of lecturers.

Following the government’s failure to honor the agreement reached with the union in December 2020, she claims the government has remained insensitive, insincere, and dubious.

Members of the union had previously attended a larger meeting with other organizations such as the None Academic Staff Union and the Senior Staff Union of Universities, where they hinted at the possibility of another round of indefinite strike action.

They also held a road walk around the university’s campus to alert the public to the impending strike.

Uduk told a press conference that the President’s regime, led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), had pushed the union to the point where it had no choice but to go on indefinite strike.

University lecturers in Taraba are protesting their poor living conditions.

Only a week after Governor Darius Ishaku praised Taraba State University lecturers for their dedication, which led to the institution being ranked 17th in the country, the lecturers staged a protest on Wednesday against what they described as poor welfare.

Under the auspices of ASUU, the lecturers rose from their congress and staged a peaceful protest around the university’s campus, demanding better working conditions.

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During the protest, Dr Samuel Shiikaa, the chairman of the university’s union, told journalists that the members were tired of signing memorandums of understanding with the state government that would not be implemented.

He said, “Since 2009, we have been signing memoranda of understanding with the state government, but the government will always not honour its own side.

“Our members are tired of the memos and want the government to honour its agreement to pay pension and ensure timely promotion of our members.”

Meanwhile, the Federal University, Wukari, branch of the ASUU decided to follow the decision reached by the national secretariat of the union on the planned strike.

This decision was made at the union’s congress, which was held on the university’s campus.

Joseph Ikwebe, the branch chairman, told journalists shortly after the congress that the institution had declared Wednesday a lecture-free day in order to educate students and parents about the plight of ASUU members.

Following a work-free day declared by the local branch of ASUU, the management of the University of Ilorin shifted all examinations scheduled for Wednesday to Saturday.

After a congress on Tuesday, the union issued a statement jointly signed by Prof Moyosore Ajao, Chairman of the UNILORIN branch of the union, and Dr A. G. Olatunji, Secretary of the UNILORIN branch of the union, respectively. The union said its members would observe a work-free day on Wednesday, during which they would not attend to any official duties.

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