Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday said the non-fulfilment of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed with the Federal Government was capable of disrupting academic activities in universities.
The varsity teachers, under the Ibadan Zone of ASUU, met on Thursday at the Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho, Oyo State, to review the strike they suspended in December last year, after reaching the agreement with the government.
They said: “The persistent non-responsiveness of the FGN to the contentious and outstanding issues of the December 2020 FGN/ASUU MoA has created a ticking time bomb, which may explode and engulf the Nigerian university system at a time sooner than may be imagined. When this happens, Nigerians should hold the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible.”
Its Zonal Coordinator, Prof Oyebamiji Oyegoke, spoke with reporters on the face off. He was accompanied by chairpersons of branches Professor Ayo Akinwole (UI); Prof Moyosore Ajao (UNILORIN); Dr. Biodun Olaniran (LAUTECH) and Dr. Shehu Salau (KWASU).
According to the union, salary shortfall and setting up of Visitation Panels to Federal Government-owned universities are the only two issues addressed by government in ASUU’s demands.
ASUU listed the yet-to-be attended to demands as: renegotiation of conditions of service; injection of revitalisation funds; payment of earned academic allowances; implementation of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS); proliferation of state universities; release of withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues of unions.
All the items, it said, were contained in the December 22, 2020 MoA.
Prof Oyegoke said: “The claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment that the money allocated for revitalisation of public universities had been paid as contained in the MoA of 2020 cannot be true.
“The same minister confirmed on August 2, 2021 that the money is still in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), only awaiting application by the Minister of Education for eventual transfer to the NEEDS Assessment Fund Account.
“That government is working hard to facilitate the release of money by the CBN since January 2021 leaves a sour taste in the mouth.”
On IPPIS versus UTAS, the union explained that withholding salaries for months, non-release of EAA and non- payment of check-off dues accruing to the union, can only be an invitation to industrial crisis.
He added: “Moreover, UTAS avowed suitability has been demonstrated admirably to the minister of Education and members of his team, the Senate President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, and other key stakeholders like ministries of Labour and Employment; Education, Finance, Office of the Accountant-General, representatives of Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
“The more the government insists on fulfilling the demands of integrity test on UTAS, the longer will be the accompanying pains earlier identified in IPPIS on our members.
“At a reconciliation meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of our Union on Monday, August 2, 2021 at the Conference Room of the Minister of Labour and Employment, where all the contentious matters and outstanding issues regarding the implementation of the 2020 FGN/ASUU MoA were discussed, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on behalf of the Federal Government, promised that a broader government team and the inter-ministerial committee on the draft renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement would conclude its work and submit the report to government by the end of August, 2021.
“The meeting concluded with an agreement to reconvene by the end of August 2021 to ascertain the faithfulness of the FGN in resolving the outstanding issues.”
ASUU said rather instead of resolving the crises, the Federal Government has insisted on inflicting more hardship on its members.