The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has vowed to continue with its ongoing seven-month-old strike until the Federal Government yielded to it demands even if the strike will last a whole year or more.
The Lagos Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, who lectures at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Professor Olusiji Sowande, gave this hint in a statement on Monday.
He said ASUU agitations that brought about the strike was for the survival and sustenance of public university education and autonomy in the country and not for ASUU members’ interests as the federal government portraits it before the public.
According to him, without ASUU constant engagement with government towards a better public university education in the country, the system would have been collapsed for a long time.
He said it was disheartening that the Federal Government rather than being forthright and sincere in all her dealing with ASUU on the issues in contention, it is feeding the public with falsehood.
He said the contentious issues between them over time remain the same with the government playing back and front game with ASUU.
He listed them to include “government’s reluctance to fulfil the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement bothering on the provision of funds for the revitalisation of dilapidating infrastructure (hostel accommodation, befitting lecture theatres, state-of-the-art laboratories, good working environment for lecturers, and so forth), payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), setting up of Visitation Panels for the purpose of accountability and good governance of various public universities, arresting the trend of proliferation of universities at both federal and state levels while neglecting the funding of existing ones and the renegotiation of 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement.”
He pointed out that the issue of forceful enrollment of ASUU members into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), was a deliberate attempt of the government to divert the attention of the public from its insincerity, lack of interest and disregard for the education of Nigerian university students.
He also said it is evident that government is using the withholding of salaries of their members and check-off dues of their union as a war strategy to weaken them, citing cases of ASUU members in the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Michael Okpara University of Agriculture (MOUAU), among others who are being owed up to five months salaries.
He equally cited the example of a statement recently credited to the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, claiming that 57,000 out of 71,700 lecturers are already on IPPIS, saying such claim among numerous others was not only a blatant falsehood but greatly misleading.
“So, our members have resolved that even if the strike lingers beyond one year, we shall continue,” he stated.
He appealed to students, parents as well as members of the public for understanding, emphasising that the struggle is in the public interest.