The National President, National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, at the weekend declared that the varsity workers will definitely go on strike if the congresses give the leadership the go-ahead and the government failed to address the fundamental issues before the universities are reopened.
However, Comrade Nwokoma has called for the convocation of Education Summit where all the issues in contention and all fundamental issues affecting the smooth running of academic activities in the universities would be taken care of holistically.
He said the leadership of NAAT had already directed its branches in university nationwide to hold their congresses to take a final decision on the issue of strike; and added that NAAT would definitely go on strike if their congresses arrived at such decision.
In an interview with Tribune Online, the NAAT President said: “As I am talking to you, we just finished our NEC meeting and our NEC has directed that we call congresses on Wednesday, that all branches across Nigeria should call congresses for a referendum. If they come out with a referendum directing us to go on strike, of course, we are serving them, we will definitely go on strike, and Nigerians should not consider that unpatriotic.”
Asked if the varsity workers would still proceed on strike despite the fact that the students have been at home for over 10 months, he said, “why not? On 18 November we signed an MoU with the government, but as we are talking, some of these items have a timeline that is not respected.
“We agreed with the government that within two weeks of signing that agreement (MoU) that arrears of minimum wage would be paid; that has not been done. We agreed with the government that in the payment of the Earned Allowances, that the Federal Ministry of Education, NUC, in consultation with the Union shall decide on the sharing formula and that the one that would go to the Union should be clearly defined. Government has jettisoned that, and there is a lot of insincerity on the part of the government.”
He stated that the perennial crises in the university system can only be resolved if the government call an education summit, where all stakeholders will address the fundamental issues affecting the university system.
Comrade Nwokoma said: “My advice is that the government should convoke an Education Summit where these issues would be taken care of holistically. The issue of Syllabus, the issue of COVID-19, the issue of welfare of workers, the issue of agreement renegotiated or negotiated.
“If government convokes an Education Summit I think we should be able to take care of all these things holistically. Government, Labour, private sector, TETFUND, should all be there and all the critical stakeholders. That is my view, that is my own thinking and opinion.”