*Sets up renegotiating teams for ASUP, COEASU
*TUC, CACOL blame FG for strike
The negotiation between the federal government and Academic Staff of the Union of Universities (ASUU) has been scheduled to continue today as both parties seek a common ground to ameliorate the situation that precipitated the strike embarked upon by the university lecturers.
However, the federal government has embarked on the process of renegotiating agreements it reached with the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), and the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), by inaugurating two teams to interface with them.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the teams in Abuja yesterday said the agreements were due for renegotiation since 2013 but the exercise did not take place because of some unforeseen circumstances; adding that barely two years into the life of the present administration, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstitution of the government teams and the commencement of renegotiation with the unions.
Adamu further charged the members to study the agreements entered into with all the unions in the Colleges of Education and Polytechnics and engage them with a view to reaching a workable and sustainable agreement.
He said: “As members of the government teams, you are expected to play your role with skill and efficiency to come up with agreements that will help in stimulating rapid growth of the colleges of education and the polytechnics and make them more competitive and attractive,” .
Chairman of Governing Council, Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu Mohammed Ababakar, chairs the team to renegotiate with polytechnic unions, while the Chairman of Governing Council, Federal College of Education, Obudu, Dr. Obi Anthony, leads the team to renegotiate with unions in Colleges of Education.
Each team comprises of 14 members made up of relevant stakeholders, including representative of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, representative of Federal Ministry of Labor & Employment, representative of Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, (CACOL) has called on the federal government to wade into the strike embarked upon by varsity lecturers and immediately dialogue with them to resolve issues raised.
In a statement signed by the TUC President and secretary, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama and Musa Lawal M. Ozigi, the congress said it is worried that an agreement that was entered into in 2009 is still foot-dragging eight years after, adding that the union was even magnanimous enough to even sign another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2013 wherein the issues at stake were duly interrogated.
“On our part, we have examined the issues raised by the lecturers and did not find them wanting in anyway: they have asked for revitalization of public universities; the registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company and pension matters, among others. The reason we are where we are today as a nation is because the UNESCO benchmark of 26% for education has never been met, not even half of it by successive governments.
“They were fed from public treasury. Some schooled abroad on scholarship. They have made nonsense of our education system because their children school abroad, and of course they go for graduation ceremony.
“The implication of this strike is that more youths may go into crime. The dictum: “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” may play out here again. As at today there is no part of the country that is crime free. Only a week ago, worshippers were killed in a church; insecurity in the north has not abated. In the west, it has been a harvest of kidnappings and ritual killings. The news is all over on the social media about Nigerian migrants dying on the high seas almost on daily basis. And now ASUU strike again?”, the union queried.
Mr. Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman of CACOL said in response to the strike declared by ASUU as at enters its third day, “We are of the view that the present scenario could have been avoided if government (past and present) had been responsible enough to abide with the agreement it had with ASUU since 2009. If this had been done this precarious situation which has the cancerous tendency of ruining education not just at the tertiary level but the education sector generally would have been avoided through dialogue, sincere and genuine negotiations. And this would have added up to the continuous improvement in the education system basically.”
“It is time for government to abandon the same rhetoric of the old which downplays the prominence need to ensure that incessant strikes are abated in the education sector. The usual reactionary response from government has already begun with the appeal to ASUU to consider students who are currently writing degree and promotion examination to call off the strike.”
“Yet government has in face of obvious and imperative necessity adamantly failed to reduce their stupendous and undeserved remunerations, allowances, estacodes, salaries etc while it finds ‘difficult’ to fund education, the backbone of societal advancement. Apparently, the interest of the students they want to use as excuse for their determined position to destroy the education sector is not tenable any longer.”
Meanwhile, Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN/UNEC) branch on Wednesday paralyzed academic activities of both campuses of the university to join in the ongoing national strike of ASUU which started last Sunday.
Daily Times recalls that the meeting between leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige ended in a deadlock as certain issues were not agreed upon with reference to the request being made by ASUU.
Part of the ASUU requests include the 2009 and 2013 agreements which Federal Government had not implemented till date. ASUU also held that the Educational curricula in the country, has actually killed the value of education.
According to ASUU, the system encourages the survival of private institutions to the detriment of public schools.
However, the Tuesday meeting held at Ministry of Labour and Employment, Federal Secretariat, Abuja took significant steps towards the resolution of the issues raised by ASUU.
Particularly, the meeting agreed on the forensic audit of the sum of N30 billion earlier given to ASUU in 2010 and further agreed on monthly remittances to ASUU while the audit lasts.
The Minister also assured members of ASUU that government is already at work to resolve all outstanding issues in line with the resolve of the present administration to cast any form of disruption of universities’ academic calendar into the dust bin of history.
Joy Ekeke, Augustine Okezie, Idu Jude and Moses Oyediran