THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has urged the new administration of President Bola Tinubu to without further delay ensure payment of the eight months withheld salaries of the lecturers on the account of “the 2022 patriotic strike action triggered by Government’s failure” to honour agreements reached with the Union.
ASUU has also asked the new government to put machinery in motion for the speedy conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement following the recommendations of the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee to restore the integrity of the Nigeria University System.
ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said ASUU held its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Borno, State from Saturday 19th to Sunday 20th August 2023 and discussed several issues affecting the Nigerian University System (NUS) and the nation at large.
The lecturers have also kicked against the dissolution of the Governing Councils of Federal Universities by President Tinubu, saying this violated the extant laws establishing the institutions and called for the reinstatement of members of the Councils to allow for the smooth running of the universities.
Osodeke noted that the NEC of ASUU expressed serious concerns over the non-release of almost eight months’ salaries of university academics withheld on account of the 2022 patriotic strike action triggered by the Government’s failure to implement the December 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) and its truncation of the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.While noting that there was no justification for the non-release of the withheld salaries, Osodeke reiterated that the application of the anti-labour “No-Work-No-Pay” policy to academics ignored the indisputable facts that only the teaching component of academics’ work was suspended during the strike action.
He added that with the suspension of the strike-through interventions by the then Hon. Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, now Chief of Staff to Mr. President and Visitor to Federal Universities, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well-meaning Nigerians, the academics have made up for the lost ground under the most excruciating economic conditions.
Part of the statement read: “NEC commended Nigerian academics for their courage, resilience, and determination to weather through the economic, social, and emotional storms unleashed on them by the unpaid salaries.
“NEC attributed past strike actions of ASUU to the failure of successive governments to honour Agreements and Memoranda arrived at through the Collective Bargaining principle enunciated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and domesticated in Nigeria’s labour law.
“ASUU, therefore, calls on the new Government to put machinery in
motion for the speedy conclusion of the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement following the recommendations of the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee to restore the integrity of the NUS.
“NEC acknowledged the ongoing efforts to make the Federal Government release the withheld salaries of academics and implored ASUU national leadership, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and all true patriots to spare no efforts in this respect.
“NEC strongly believes that payment of the withheld salaries would go a long way to shore up the sagging morale of Nigerian university teachers.
“NEC noted with serious concern that ASUU members are currently owed several months of promotion arrears arising from distortions traceable to the forceful enrolment of academics on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) platform.
“NEC observed that the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF) has failed to address the issue despite several efforts by the union and university administrations.
“Consequently, ASUU calls on the OAGF to ensure the immediate release of backlog of promotion arrears to our members in the interest of industrial peace and harmony,” it stated.
ASUU said it also rejected all illegal appointments sponsored by the IPPIS and its agents in Nigerian public universities.