The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Owerri Zone, has accused the minister of labour and employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and his education counterpart, Chief Emeka Nwajiuba, of feeding Nigerians with lies and half-truth, especially on issues surrounding the union’s ongoing seven-month-old industrial action.
The Zonal Coordinator, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, while revealing this in a press conference held by the union at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Multiple Purpose Hall, Awka, on Tuesday, to update the general public on the ongoing strike, saying no plans to suspend the action yet.
He also informs that staff of Nigeria public universities are still earning the same salary since 2009 without any increase.
According to him, the trending rumour making the round on social media that the Federal government and the Union have reached an agreement to end the industrial action was fake news, purportedly cook by some top government officials whose children are studying abroad.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Onyebinama noted that the issues in contention remain revitalisation fund for public universities, arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), visitation to universities, the proliferation of state universities and issues of governance in them, and conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement.
He said the later issue of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was a new introduction and a diversion as no university in the world runs such a system.
“Instead of apologising to the Nigerians and hiding their heads in shame on the serial failures of Governments particularly the present Government which came on the mantra of change, the duo, Chris Ngige and Emeka Nwajiuba, have been feeding Nigerians with lies and half-truth.
“Dr Ngige and Chief Nwajiuba have on many occasions on various media organisations said that agreement have been reached on virtually all the issues that necessitated the 7 months old strike. They should please tell Nigerians, who are their masters, those agreements that have been reached and implemented.
“As far as our Union is concerned, no agreement has been reached on any of the demands. So instead of constantly running to the press, Ngige and Nwajiuba should sit down and painstakingly do the work that they are paid to do. It is on record that the date given by the Minister Ngige to reach our Union with Government improved position has elapsed without any communication.
“The proposed new timelines for implementation of some proposals such as the appointment of a new team for renegotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, gazetting of visitation panels among others have elapsed without any implementation.
“This shows the insincerity on the part of Government.”
He said Ngige has also boasted that his children are in public universities. What he refused to reveal was that he started with a private university for his children.
“On IPPIS, our Union has been consistent in rejecting the platform as it compromises the autonomy of the University system and a threat to national security considering that the software is hosted in Washington, USA with a sub-platform at Gombe State.
“Our Union has spent millions of naira of check-off dues of her members and produced the local solution, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which will protect the greatest human asset of the country, fight corruption, ensure transparency and satisfy University Autonomy.
“Why the continued wastage of scarce public fund by Government represented by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the sponsors/beneficiaries? Nigerians need to ask this question and demand an answer.
“We are therefore surprised that the Ngige could go on air to present information which he has not verified as truth to the unsuspecting public.
The ongoing total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action by our union will continue if this propaganda and lies against ASUU persist,” ASUU added, even as it urged students, parents and well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to address the matter fairly and quickly.
Tribune Online gathered that the Owerri Zone comprises; Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, IMO state university Owerri, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Federal University of Technology Owerri and Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam.