James Sowole in Akure and Francis Sardauna in Katsina
The Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) yesterday accused the federal government of failing to implement a six-point agreement brokered during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on January 9.
Besides, the union asked the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, declare a five-year state of emergency in the education sector by allocating 26 per cent of its annual budget to the sector.
The union expressed the concern at separate news conferences the Coordinator of Akure Zone, Prof. Olu-Olu Olufayo and his Sokoto Zone counterpart, Jamilu Shehu respectively in Akure and Katsina yesterday.
At Akure, Olufayo noted that the current strike was not only because of non payment of members’ salary due to introduction of Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
He said the ASUU suspended its strike before the general election because the federal government promised to do certain things which the government failed to do.
He said it was disheartening that Ngige, who was the arrow head of the whole negotiation, could now turn to blame ASUU’s warning strike on non payment of February salary.
“ASUU members worked for February. Up till today, nobody had been paid. So it was wrong for Ngige to state that lecturers need not to be paid for work not done. We have worked for the month of February and deserve to be paid. It means Ngige does not know what he was saying,” Olufayo said.
ASUU, also, called for an immediate review of the promises made by government to address the dilapidated and deplorable infrastructures and bad state of education in Nigeria, and demanded that such should be respected.
He said: “As things stand now, students are made to learn under inhumane conditions. This is in spite of all the efforts of ASUU to bring to the fore, all the inherent physical problems being experienced by the students.
“The situation has been made worse by apparent government meddlesomeness in the day to day administration of universities.
The attempt to erode universities’ autonomy make them incapable of performing optimally in teaching, research and rendering of services.”
The coordinator said the introduction of the obnoxious Integrated Personnel and payroll Information System (IPPIS) would not do good for the university system.
He lamented that the government had rejected the cost-free and effective alternative platform, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), being developed by ASUU.
He said: “ASUU will not allow its members to be railroaded into enrolling in this scam called IPPIS because of its apparent deficiencies. IPPIS also runs counter of the Universities Miscellaneous Provision Act (as amended). It is nothing but fraud, which allows the enrolment of ghost workers.”
Olufayo also faulted the National Assembly for attempting “to make laws against sexual harassment only for lecturers of higher institutions. ASUU condemns, in totality, all forms of sexual harassment, no matter its origin.
“However, the union is strongly opposed to any form of deliberate effort or attempt by the National Assembly to single out lecturers for sexual harassment legislation, as if such does not happen in other sections of the society.
“Such an attempt violates the rule of jurisprudence which says that laws should not be made against specific or targeted individuals or a group,” the coordinator said.
In Katsina, Shehu said at least 6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) should be allocated to education during the period under review.
He said the federal government “should declare a five-year state of emergency in the education sector. During this period, at least 6 per cent of the GDP or 26 per cent of federal government budget as well as 26 per cent of each state government budget should be allocated to education during this period.”
He, however, said the imposition of what he termed obnoxious IPPIS on ASUU members by federal government did not address the peculiarities of varsities academics and was not applicable to any other university system in the world.
He urged government to accept the union’s ongoing innovation system of human resource management and compensation known as University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which he said would tackle the peculiarities of universities and would end recruitment racketeering in the system.
Shehu said federal government had precipitated another feud in the university system by not remitting the third party deductions from the salaries of ASUU members in January 2020 and non-payment of February salaries.
He explained that the union would continue with its two-week warning strike to compel government to address its demands as capsulated in the ASUU-FGN Memorandum of Action (MoA) of February 7.