#JUST IN: ASUU Strike Continues until Agreement is Implemented

By Nwachukwu Egbunike

This patience is, of course, not new. It took fifty (50) letters, a series of warning strikes, a total and indefinite strike, and over 200 meetings, to get government to renegotiate the 2001 Agreement…ASUU

The Academic Staff Union of Universities – have vowed to continue their industrial action until government accents to their demands. In a press release signed by  Dr Adesola Nassir, Zonal Coordinator, Ibadan Zone of ASUU, stated that Nigerian university teachers are not going back to the classroom until the 2009 agreement they reached with the Federal Government is implemented.

ASUU made it clear that their present industrial action was democratic: “The declaration was predicated on a referendum conducted by our branches after considering the poor response of Government to its grouse on the poor implementation of the Agreement and also lack of commitment by Government to the Memorandum of Understanding reached with the Union in January 2012.”

The teachers outlined their grievances with the government as follows: “Condition of service of academic staff; funding of universities; and university autonomy and academic freedom and other matters.” ASUU stated that the means of achieving these three cardinal demands were embedded in the 2009 agreement with the federal government. Some of which includes:

  1. New salary structure for academics in Nigerian Public Universities;
  2. A set of Earned Allowances;
  3. Non-salary Conditions of Service;
  4. Pension for University Academic Staff and compulsory retirement age of 70 years for those in the Professorial cadre;
  5. Formation of the Nigerian University Pension Fund Administrator (the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), and modalities for the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme in the Universities;
  6.  Funding that would inject a total of N1,518,331,545,304.00 for the period 2009-2011;
  7.  Possible sources of funding, and the need for a minimum of 26% of the annual budget of State and Federal Governments to be allocated to education, of which 50% shall be allocated to Universities and the need to place education on the “First Charge” by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission;
  8. Federal Government’s assistance to states for higher education;
  9. The restructuring of the governance and leadership structure in the Universities;
  10.   The need to amend the National Universities Commission Act 2004, the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of institution) Act 2004 and the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) Act 2004; and
  11.  The Agreement also highlighted the priority areas of implementation, the machinery for monitoring the implementation of the Agreement, the Agreement’s effective date and the date for review.

ASUU had gave a historical background on how the 2009 agreement with government came to be.  The teachers assert that they have ran out of patience:

For two years, ASUU through various media expressed frustrations at Government’s negative disposition towards the Agreement, but at every meeting of the National Executive Council of the Union, they agreed to exercise patience. This patience is, of course, not new. It took fifty (50) letters, a series of warning strikes, a total and indefinite strike, and over 200 meetings, to get Government to renegotiate the 2001 Agreement.  ASUU resolved to exercise patience and restraint, as usual, bearing in mind the grave consequences of its response to Government’s insincerity and violation of the Agreement of 2009. The members remained justifiably angry and frustrated, as they felt betrayed by government.

Besides they are irked by the response by the government. They particularly expressed their frustration with the National University Commission for imposing an odious frame on them with their cheep blackmail in the court of public opinion:

The National University Commission (NUC), through the Executive Secretary Prof. Julius Okojie, has once again shown its disdain for seriousness by pretending that it does not know that ASUU is on strike, publishing certain figures on academic staff salaries and funds released to universities and also conducting a sham programme accreditation at University of Abuja. One wonders why the same NUC failed to also publish the ranking of Nigerian Universities compared with their counterparts in Africa and globally and also failed to acknowledge its complications in granting programme accreditation to Universities, but which has now been revealed by the Needs Assessment Report as colossal facades.

The Ibadan Zone of  ASUU therefore resolved to continue their industrial action until the 2009 agreement are honoured: Thus they:

…resolved to remain on strike along with our colleagues nationwide for as long as it takes the Government to be faithful to the implementation of the Agreement and commence the process of renegotiating the 2009 Agreement.

Find below the full text of the press release. 

ACADEMIC STAFF UNION OF UNIVERSITIES (ASUU) IBADAN ZONE

PRESS RELEASE ON THE ONGOING ASUU STRIKE

It is no more news that our Union, ASUU, has once again been pushed into taking the painful decision of embarking on a total comprehensive and indefinite strike owing, regrettably, to the lack of faith on the part of Federal and State Governments to implement the Agreement reached with the Union in 2009. Our members rose from the National Executive Council Meeting held at Olabisi Onabanjo University between 29 and 30th June 2013 and declared the strike to get Governments to implement the Agreement which is aimed at redeeming our Universities from their sorry state.

The declaration was predicated on a referendum conducted by our branches after considering the poor response of Government to its grouse on the poor implementation of the Agreement and also lack of commitment by Government to the Memorandum of Understanding reached with the Union in January 2012.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES

The 2009 Agreement

The 2009 Agreement was a product of the review of the previous Agreements reached between the Federal government and ASUU. The renegotiation lasted two years (2007 – 2009) and addressed three major areas for the purpose of repositioning our universities for national development. These are:

  1. Condition of service of academic staff;
  2. Funding of Universities;
  3. University Autonomy and Academic Freedom and other matters.

These were to be achieved through:

i.   New salary structure for academics in Nigerian Public Universities;

ii.    A set of Earned Allowances;

iii.    Non-salary Conditions of Service;
iv.  Pension for University Academic Staff and compulsory retirement age of 70years for those in the Professorial cadre;
v.  Formation of the Nigerian University Pension Fund Administrator (the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), and modalities for the operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme in the Universities;
vi.   Funding that would inject a total of N1,518,331,545,304.00 for the period 2009-2011;
vii.   Possible sources of funding, and the need for a minimum of 26% of the annual budget of State and Federal Governments to be allocated to education, of which 50% shall be allocated to Universities and the need to place education on the “First Charge” by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission;
Federal Government’s assistance to states for higher education;
ix.      The restructuring of the governance and leadership structure in the Universities;
x.   The need to amend the National Universities Commission Act 2004, the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of institution) Act 2004 and the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) Act 2004; and
xi.   The Agreement also highlighted the priority areas of implementation, the machinery for monitoring the implementation of the Agreement, the Agreement’s effective date and the date for review.

For two years, ASUU through various media expressed frustrations at Government’s negative disposition towards the Agreement, but at every meeting of the National Executive Council of the Union, they agreed to exercise patience.  This patience is, of course, not new.  It took fifty (50) letters, a series of warning strikes, a total and indefinite strike, and over 200 meetings, to get Government to renegotiate the 2001 Agreement.  ASUU resolved to exercise patience and restraint, as usual, bearing in mind the grave consequences of its response to Government’s insincerity and violation of the Agreement of 2009.  The members remained justifiably angry and frustrated, as they felt betrayed by Government.

When it became clear that Government did not have the intention of commencing the implementation of the other components of the Agreement (Funding, University Autonomy and Academic Freedom, Earned Academic Allowances, and Other Matters), the Union had to embark on another warning strike, culminating into a total and indefinite one on 4th December, 2011, to persuade Government to have a change of heart.  That strike was suspended on 2nd February, 2012 following the intervention of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the Chairpersons of Education Committees of the Senate (Comrade Uche Chukwumerije) and House of Representatives (then Hon. Faruk Lawan) and other Nigerians.

The Memorandum of Understanding

The intervention culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Federal Government and ASUU, the high points of which are:

(a)  Funding Requirement for Revitalising the Universities

“Government reaffirms its commitment to the revitalisation of Nigerian Universities through budgetary and non-budgetary sources of funds. Government will immediately stimulate the process with the sum of one hundred billion naira and will build this up to a yearly sum of 400 Billion naira in the next three (3) years”.

(b)  Federal Government’s Assistance to State Universities

“The State Universities shall continue to enjoy Federal special and other statutory interventions”.

(c)  Progressive Increase of Annual Budgetary Allocation to Education to 26% between 2009 and 2020

“Government will improve significantly the budgetary allocation to education from 2013 to 2020”.

(d)  Earned Academic Allowances

“Government accepts in principle the payment of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).  However, there is need to work out practical and sustainable ways to do this.  Consequently, the mandate of the IMC has been expanded to include proposing practical and sustainable ways of paying the Earned Academic Allowances and the report is expected in 60 days. Government shall direct the universities to support internal staff development of all those not covered under TETFund intervention on capacity building”.

(e)  Amendment of the Pension/Retirement Age of Academics on the Professorial Cadre from 65 to 70 years

“As soon as the legislative procedures for the Bill on the Seventy Years Retirement Age for Academics at the professorial cadre are concluded, the President shall assent to it not later than the end of February 2012”.

(f)   Establishment of a Pension Fund Administration for Universities

“Government directed the Implementation Monitoring Committee to take all necessary steps to register NUPEMCO within three (3) months.  Where the Implementation Monitoring Committee has difficulties, it should refer the matter to the Government for necessary action”.

(g)  University Governing Councils

“Government undertakes to reinstate Governing Councils of various Universities on or before February 12, 2012, but may make changes in external membership where it deems necessary.  The tenure of the Councils thus reinstated shall end in February 2013”.

(h)  Transfer of Landed Property to the Universities

“Universities shall form a University Property Holding Company which shall, among other things, participate in the acquisition, management and concession of government properties”.

(i)    Setting up Research and Development Units by Companies Operating in Nigeria

“Government will encourage Companies operating in Nigeria to collaborate closely with Nigerian Universities in setting up research and development units”.

(j)   The Budget Monitoring Committee (BMC)

“Each Council shall set up a Budget Monitoring Committee (BMC) which shall monitor the effective use of funds in each University. BMC shall, through the Governing Council, send its report on project execution, budget performance, and financial discipline to the Implementation Monitoring Committee quarterly”.

The necessity for urgency in the implementation of these items was even furthered by the damning report of the Needs Assessment conducted across public universities (Federal and State) nationwide. Government again demonstrated bad faith by failing to honour most of the components of the MoU for over eighteen months. This situation could no longer be tolerated by our members and this led to their decision to declare the ongoing strike to get the Federal and State Governments to respect the right of Nigerians to qualitative education at the Universities and by extension all levels of education.

Government’s Response so Far

It is disheartening that with the lofty objectives set out to be achieved by the Agreement through the identified programme of action enumerated in the MoU, Government has chosen to go the old odious track of trading words, blackmail and peddling of outright lies on this matter. The National University Commission (NUC), through the Executive Secretary Prof. Julius Okojie, has once again shown its disdain for seriousness by pretending that it does not know that ASUU is on strike, publishing certain figures on academic staff salaries and funds released to universities and also conducting a sham programme accreditation at University of Abuja. One wonders why the same NUC failed to also publish the ranking of Nigerian Universities compared with their counterparts in Africa and globally and also failed to acknowledge its complications in granting programme accreditation to Universities, but which has now been revealed by the Needs Assessment Report as colossal facades.

The same NUC defied all known fronts of decency by endorsing the assault on University regulations at Rivers State Universities of Science and Technology (RSUST) and turning the blind eye at documented evidence of teaching and examination practices at the that did not conform with extant regulations going by the National Minimum Academic Standards, NUC has deliberately turned a blind eye.  Today, NUC is busy violating University Autonomy and Academic Freedom by usurping the powers of University Senate (e.g. unilaterally cancelling pass degrees, proposing to award degrees etc).

 

OUR RESOLUTION

Our members at ASUU Ibadan Zone, comprising of University of Ibadan (UI), University of Lagos (UNILAG), Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Lagos State University (LASU), University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB) and Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) are resolved to remain on strike along with our colleagues nationwide for as long as it takes the Government to be faithful to the implementation of the Agreement and commence the process of renegotiating the 2009 Agreement. This is not meant to inflict undue pain on our students (which also include our members, wives and children), parents and other primary interests. It is our collective sacrifice towards ensuring that we bequeath a better university system to posterity.

We wish to inform the public that since ASUU took up this challenge of repositioning our varsities for over two decades ago, many academic staff, possibly over three thousand, have been trained outside this country through the TETFund, which is a product of our Agreements. Most of these beneficiaries were students during the period struggle leading to the signing of the Agreement. In the no distant future, the gains of the ongoing efforts would again materialize. But these gains would become meaningless if academics that are trained with state of the art facilities outside the Country return to use stoves in the laboratories rather than Bunsen burners or even have to rummage through obsolete libraries to get information which ought to have been a few buttons away.

Gentlemen of the Press, our Union appreciates the support it has received from you and other well-meaning Nigerians and also the ongoing intervention of the Senate through its Committee on Education. We are all into this struggle to get our country to move forward. We cannot continue to relegate the education of our children by devoting a paltry 8.5% of our budget even when most African countries spend about 20% on the average. We therefore call on parents, students, progressive organizations, the media and all patriotic Nigerians to join our Union in this struggle to free our Universities and society from the claws of misgovernance, neglect and outright repression by the Federal Governments and their local and foreign collaborators.

Long live ASUU!

Long Live Nigeria!!

 Thank you.

 Dr Adesola Nassir

Zonal Coordinator, Ibadan Zone of ASUU

 

(For and on behalf of ASUU, Ibadan Zone)

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