Sani Wilson Enemona
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Sokoto Zone, comprising the Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto (UDUS), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina (UMYU), Kebbi State University of Science and Technology Aliero (KSUSTA), Sokoto State University, Sokoto (SSU), and the Federal University Dutsin-ma (FUDMA) has made a Press Conference to brief newsmen on the causes of the current raw between the Union and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), which, sadly, is precipitating another round of industrial crisis in the country.
Recall that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on an indefinite, total, and comprehensive strike action on 9th March 2020 over the failure of the Government to address the outstanding issues in the ASUU/FGN Memorandum of Action of 7th February 2020.
However, the strike was suspended following an agreement reached between the two parties in a meeting held on 22nd December 2020, which led to the signing of a new MoA.
According to ASUU: “Despite the Union’s consideration of issues of national importance, tabled at the meeting, leading to the suspension of the strike action, we are here to report that the following items are still outstanding, as Government has refused to take any serious action towards implementing them.”
The first issue raised by ASUU is the funding for the Revitalization of Public Universities, where the union lamented that it has been central to their struggles for the repositioning of Nigerian public University system as enshrined in the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement.
“The Government committed itself to revatilise public universities with N1.3 Trillion, divided into annual tranches of N200bn in 2013 and a yearly payment of N220bn from 2014 to 2018. Aside from the N200bn released in 2013, and an additional N20bn in 2019, no other tranche was released since then. The government agreed to pay N30bn as part of one tranche of N220bn on or before January 31, 2021 as a sign of commitment to the MoU of 2013, and even claimed to have deposited the funds with the Central Bank of Nigeria. As I speak to you now, not all the Universities have received this money” the Union complained.
Next is the issue of payment and Mainstreaming of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) and the union recounted that “at meeting held at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, presided over by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment on Thursday, October 14, 2021, the Government committed itself to the release of N22.127bn for the settlement of part of EAA to our members latest by the end of October, 2021, and that payments of EAA should be mainstreamed into the annual budget. Even though part of the EAA has been released, our members are still waiting for the implementation of the mainstreaming as agreed upon in the MoA.”
University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) was also brought up by the union where it stated that the payment platform was “subjected to various layers of tests by all stakeholders, such as National Universities Commission (NUC), Federal Ministry of Finance, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), and even the end-users, and all the parties were satisfied with the efficiency of the UTAS, particularly in addressing the peculiarities of the University system. Sadly, despite satisfying all the requirements for deployment of UTAS, Government is yet to honour its own part of the agreement.”
On the issue of inconsistencies in salary payment with IPPIS, ASUU said the Federal Government of Nigeria had affirmed its commitment to pay all the withheld salaries of ASUU members who had not enrolled in the obnoxious Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS). To date, the IPPIS office owes many of our members their entitled salaries ranging from 2 to 18 months. In this Zone (Sokoto), for instance, our members in UDUS and FUDMA still have many issues of nonpayment of salaries and no explanation was given in that regard.
Also, about renegotiation exercise, both the Union and Government teams have concluded the renegotiation exercise, and even came up with a draft document.
“Unfortunately, the brooder Government team, involving all the relevant Ministries that are supposed to look at it and make further recommendations are yet to meet and this delay tactics is unacceptable to our Union.
“In view of the foregoing, therefore, ASUU maintained that it would “no longer rely on lies and pledges of the implementation of the 23rd December 2020 MoA by the Government.
“We are, hence, calling for all the concerned parties to urgently address these issues in line with the spirit and letters of the December 2020 MoA and the intervention of the Speaker, House of Representatives, and others, or risk industrial action”, ASUU threatens.
Also, the Union called on all patriotic Nigerians to prevail on the Government to return to the path of honour by concluding the MoA it agreed to implement.
“Both the Federal and State Governments should be impressed upon to accord the educational sector the attention it deserves because that is the only, and of course surest way, that we can truly develop as a Nation” it said.