Meeting with Buhari: ASUU demands declaration of 5-year state of emergency on education

• urges FG, States to allocate 26% of budget to education

The leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare Five-Year State of Emergency in the education sector as a deliberate effort to address the rot in the system.

The Union also insisted that during the period, “at least 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or 26% of the Federal Government budget as well as 26% of each State Government budget should be allocated to education during this period”.

Despite the intervention of President Buhari, the leadership of ASUU has maintained its stand that the lecturers will not bend over backwards to enrol on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

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President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who gave insight into the deliberations with President Buhari at the meeting in Aso Rock on 9th January 2020, said the Union briefed the President on strong reasons why the lecturers rejected enrollment on IPPIS platform.

Ogunyemi in a statement he personally signed on Tuesday in Abuja, also clarified that the meeting with the President was beyond the raging issue of IPPIS, saying the meeting was conceived in the broad context of education and national development with the Triple Helix principles as established in China, Singapore, Malaysia, among other emerging economic powers.

He also noted that contrary to what was reported in the media, “at no point during the meeting did President Buhari put a closure to the ongoing discussion on ASUU’s preference for the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) or directed that the salaries of ASUU members be stopped for failure to enrol on IPPIS”.

He said ASUU has always argued that the IPPIS crisis could not be resolved without paying due attention to the foundational issues of autonomy and academic freedom, collective bargaining agreements and sustainable funding of education for the transformation of Nigeria.

Ogunyemi said ASUU made six clear prayers at the meeting with President Buhari, first, was the need for appropriate officers to obey universities’ laws and abide by collective bargaining agreements.

He said ASUU also expressed the need for the implementation of all outstanding provisions in the 7th February 2019 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action and the need to recommence and conclude the re-negotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement based on International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s collective bargaining principles within the six-week timeline originally set for it.

Other prayers included the need for President Buhari, as Visitor to the Federal Universities, to constitute and activate Visitation Panels to all universities and direct that the outcomes be fully implemented.

He said: “Government should welcome ASUU’s ongoing innovation of a more robust system of human resource management and compensation, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), will address the peculiarities of Universities and end inappropriate recruitments in the system.

“ASUU remains committed to its tradition of consultation and dialogue, which informed the engagement with President Buhari on Thursday, 9th January  2020, with the hope that all the prayers sought would receive the expected prompt attention.

“President Buhari agreed with ASUU that education, particularly university education, holds the key to the future of the country.

“The Union, on its part, noted with interest Mr President’s comment that the ‘Minister of Education has a lot of work to do’; after which he handed over the position paper of ASUU on the issues raised to the Minister for follow up,” he stated.

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