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Universities will soon reopen for academic activities ― Education Minister

Written by MJ

November 3, 2020

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has vowed to continue with its ongoing seven-month-old strike until the Federal Government yields to its demands.

The Lagos State zonal coordinator of ASUU, who lec- tures at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Professor Olusiji Sowande, gave this hint in a statement on Monday.

He said ASUU’s agitations which brought about the strike was for the survival and sustenance of public university education and autonomy in the country, not for ASUU members’ interests as the Federal Government por- trayed it before the public.

According to him, without ASUU’s constant engagement with government towards better public university education in the country, the system would have collapsed a long time.

He said it was disheartening that the Federal Gov- ernment, rather than being forthright and sincere in all its dealings with ASUU on the is- sues in contention, was feeding the public with falsehood.

He said the contentious issues between them over time remained the same, with government playing back and forth game with ASUU.

He listed them to include “government’s reluctance to fulfil the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement bordering on provision of funds for revitalisation of dilapidating infrastructure (hostel accommodation, befitting lecture theatres, state-of-the-art laboratories, good working environment for lecturers, among others), payment of Earned Academic Allow- ances (EAA), setting up of visitation panel for the pur- pose of accountability and good governance of various public universities, arresting the trend of proliferation of universities at both federal and state levels while ne- glecting the funding of ex- isting ones and the renego- tiation 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 government to divert attention of the public from its insincerity, lack of interest and disregard for the education of Nigerian university students.

He also said it was evident that government was using withholding of salaries of their members and check-off dues of the union as a war strategy to weaken them, citing cases of ASUU mem- bers in the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), Michael Okpara University of Agricul- ture (MOUAU), among oth- ers, who are being owed up to five months salary.

Meanwhile, ASUU on Monday said its members have been rejecting migration to the Integrated Per- sonal Payroll Information System (IPPIS) since 2013.

Coordinator of ASUU, Calabar zone, Dr Aniekan Brown, disclosed this during a press conference in Calabar.

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 were already on IPPIS, saying such claim, among numerous others, was not only a blatant false- hood, 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 public interest.

Brown recalled that on March 23, ASUU declared an industrial action against the government for not ad- hering to their demands.

“For the records, we consider the IPPIS, which is a payment system as uncongenial with the modus operandi of the university system, given the peculiarities of universities. Government has made it a frontburner, but we consider it a distraction.

“The mode of employment, retirement age, sabbatical leave, adjunct engagements, part-time engagements, contract engagements and others are concepts that are unique to the university and obviously alien to IPPIS,” he said.

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