NUC, Education minister, VCs meet over ASUU strike, Sept.6, as Osinbajo calls for urgent action

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National Universities Commission (NUC) has called a meeting among the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, Pro-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of federal universities in the country over the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The NUC meeting is scheduled for September 6.

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This is also as the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has called for urgent action by all stakeholders over the lingering industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the country.

It would be recalled that barely hours after resolving to extend its industrial action, on Monday, ASUU later same day declared the six-month strike as ‘indefinite’.

The union in its latest move also accused the Federal Government, its negotiating teams, as well as, some government functionaries of ‘a lot of deceit of the highest level’ in over five years of ‘fruitless and unending negotiation without a display of utmost fidelity.’

ASUU further singled out the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, accusing him of ‘deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation of facts aimed at scoring cheap political gains.’

The strike which has lingered for six months since its declaration on February 14, this year, will now commence indefinitely from 12.01 a.m. on Monday, 29th August, according to the striking university lecturers.

A statement signed by the ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, after the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) which was held at the union’s headquarters at the University of Abuja, Monday morning, resolved that the demands of the Union had not been satisfactorily addressed ‘hence the declaration for a total comprehensive and indefinite strike.’

“In view of the foregoing, and following extensive deliberations on Government’s response to the resolution of 14th February, 2022 so far, NEC concluded that the demands of the Union had not been satisfactorily addressed. Consequently, NEC resolved to transmute the roll-over strike to a comprehensive, total and indefinite strike action beginning from 12.01a.m. on Monday, 29th August, 2022,“ the statement read.

Rising from its scheduled National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, Monday, ASUU’s NEC resolved to extend its near six-month long industrial action.

The decision was taken at the union’s NEC meeting which held its headquarters inside the University of Abuja, Monday morning.

ASUU had declared the commencement of a strike on Monday, February 14, 2022, during its University of Lagos meeting,

The lecturers have been on strike despite several meetings with the Federal Government, reportedly making concessions, including the adoption of the contentious University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as the payment platform of lecturers.

Spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, Monday, explained that the Federal Government had taken all possible steps to end the strike. The spokesperson, however, failed to disclose the steps taken in that direction.

 “As regards the next steps, the government has already inaugurated a committee to harmonise the IPPIS, UTAS, and UP3. This will ensure that the government will pay with only one payment platform that will harmonise all the technical peculiarities.

“If you bring some demands and almost 80% have been attended to, there is no need to drag the strike anymore.

“It is unreasonable for the strike to be lingering seeing as the government has worked towards fulfilling most of the demands.”

So far, sister unions in the tertiary education circle, including the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Education Institutions (NASU) have announced suspension of their industrial action.

Only, last Friday, another academic workers’ union, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), suspended its three-month old nationwide strike.

SSANU and NASU suspended their industrial action, last week Saturday, following a meeting with the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu in Abuja, earlier Friday.

However, the suspension is expected to take effect from Wednesday, August 24.

This is also as their sister labour group, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) hinted at calling off the nearly six-month long industrial action next Monday, August 22.

The decision by the SSANU and NASU to suspend their strike followed the assurance by the Education Minister that the Federal Government has committed N50 billion to offset earned allowances for members of SSANU, NASU and the ASUU.

Meanwhile, NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, announced convening a meeting of major stakeholders in the Education sector via a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

The statement was signed by NUC’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Administration, Mr Chris Maiyaki, and made available to newsmen in Abuja.

Rasheed said the commission had invited the pro-chancellors and their vice-chancellors to a meeting with the minister to seek succeeding solution to the crisis.

According to the statement, the pro-chancellors and their vice-chancellors are expected to meet with Adamu, to deliberate on issues concerning the ongoing ASUU strike.

The meeting, according to the executive secretary, will hold at the commission’s headquarters, Abuja.

The invitation letter is titled: “Industrial actions by university-based unions: Invitation to a special interactive meeting with the Honourable Minister of Education”.

“As the pro-chancellors and the chairmen of councils and the vice-chancellors are quite aware, the industrial action by university-based unions has led to the closure of the institutions since Feb. 14.

“You are also aware that the non-teaching unions have suspended their industrial actions with effect from Aug. 24, while a final decision is being awaited from the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.

“It has become necessary for the governing councils and the managements of the universities to be briefed on the decisions and actions taken by the Federal Government so far.

“This is to allow for a well-coordinated review of the situation, including building consensus around succeeding actions.”

Reacting to the indefinite strike declared by ASUU, Monday, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has called for urgent action on the lingering strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Professor Osinbajo spoke, Tuesday when he received members of the Progressives Governors’ Forum in his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Governors visited to felicitate Professor Osinbajo as he recovers from the surgical procedure he had gone, last month.

During the brief interaction that followed at the meeting, important national issues were also raised especially the economy and the ASUU strike.

The Vice President and the Governors agreed to engage these and other pressing issues further to bring urgent resolution for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

“We all need to work together on these critical issues. We need to think through things, and we need to do it fast,” the VP said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting with the Vice President, the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, appealed to ASUU to consider the future of the next generation of Nigerians.

Governor Bagudu recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had made a similar appeal to the lecturers in July during the Eid-il-Kabir celebrations in Daura, Katsina State, calling on them to save the future of Nigerian students.

“During the Sallah visit we paid to the President in Daura, he appealed to ASUU to be mindful of the future of the next generation.

“He didn’t play blame game; he spoke as a father. He even went further to say that even if ASUU has been offended, they should please think about the next generation. And all of us are appealing to ASUU in particular and all stakeholders. Let us do what will ensure that we don’t miss out.

“Nigeria is competing with other countries. We don’t have the luxury of time. So, we continue to urge all stakeholders to do the same thing,” Bagudu said.

State Governors present at the meeting included; Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Simon Lalong  (Plateau), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Muhammad Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq (Kwara), Abubakar Bello (Niger), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), and the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Kelechi Igwe.

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