- Opposes TSA in universities, calls APC’s change mantra cosmetic
Paul Obi in Abuja
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared a one week warning strike to press home its demands to the federal government.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, told journalists in Abuja that the strike became necessary given government’s inability to address several demands and agreements it reached with the body.
According to ASUU, government failure to adhere and implement the 2009 agreement prompted the body to asked its members nationwide to embark on a one week warning strike from tomorrow, Wednesday, November 16, 2016 to protest against government action.
ASUU also accused the government of turning the establishment of universities into constituency projects to score cheap political points, an approach the union is vehemently opposed to.
Speaking with journalists at the end of its emergency National Executive Council meeting in Abuja, ASUU National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi stressed that despite several efforts by the union to get the government to respect the tenets of their agreement, the government has failed to see reason with ASUU, thereby, creating anxiety among the nation’s academic community.
ASUU enumerated areas of disagreement between the union and government to include payment of fraction to staff entitlement and the denial of staff entitlement in respect of earned academic allowance amounting to about N128 billion, funding of universities for revitalisation and the refusal to register the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company by the National Pension Commission.
Others include “the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), affecting university autonomy, decrease in budgetary allocation to education and the refusal by government to renegotiate the 2009 agreement which was due for renegotiation since 2012.
He said: “Our members across the nation are worried that six months after the meeting with the Minister of Education and a series of letters to amplify the need to respect the spirit and letters of the 2009 agreement and the 2013 MoU, there has been no tangible results on the issues raised.
“This failure puts ASUU leadership in a severe difficulty responding to enquiries from members of the union about the state of affairs in our engagement with the federal government.
“Following a nationwide consultation with out membership, the National Executive Council of ASUU rose from its meeting on Sunday, November 13 with a resolution to embark on a one week warning strike starting from Wednesday, November 16, 2016.
“The nationwide strike action is total and comprehensive. While it last, there shall be no teaching, no examination and no attendance of statutory meeting of any kind in any of our branches.
“We use this opportunity to call on all education loving Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to prevail on the government to address the patriotic demands of ASUU. For us in ASUU, we shall not surrender until the Nigerian university system is repositioned for transforming the country and global competitiveness.”
On the setting up of more universities by both the federal and state governments, Ogunyemi stated that, “we are not against democratizing university education by providing more opportunities. But we also believe that if government followed the path which it had agreed on, universities will not be made constituency projects as we are beginning to see.
“When you say every state must have a university without doing your home work and every governor think that a university must be established in their constituency, it then means we are not paying attention to quality, but using the establishment of universities to make political points.
“That is what we are against. In other places, what they do as a part of the democratisation of university education is to expand facilities, open space for more students to come, improve the quality of laboratories, library and offices. We are not seeing that happening here. Government is now turning establishment of university into constituency project and that is not acceptable to us.”
While taking a swipe on APC leg-government policies, Prof. Ogunyomi said the union and Nigerians have not see any light at the end of the tunnel in terms of the change promised by the APC led federal government, saying “this government is not different from the previous one because it is the same ruling class.
“We have not found genuine patriots who will do things differently. Our expectations and hopes were raised when we heard the word change. But what we have had so far is just cosmetic. We have not really had the radical change that Nigerians yearned for.”
“A radical departure from from the past has not happened and until that happens, we cannot have a change that will lead to transformation. That is the position of ASUU and we have always said it. Because of the penchant to score political points, establishment of universities has been turned into a political project. As long as we turn education into a political project, we will not have the quality we need.”