Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday ruled out calling off its ongoing nationwide strike despite the olive branch from President Muhammadu Buhari directing the payment of the withheld February and March salaries of its members.
The lecturers’ salaries were withheld following their refusal to register on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as ordered by the federal government.
But the president on Tuesday directed the payment of the salaries to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the lecturers.
National President of the union, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, in a reaction to the Buhari’s directive, said the strike would not be called off.
He added that the strike was not only because of the dispute over IPPIS, adding that the federal government’s gesture would only create a conducive environment for a constructive engagement between the two parties.
“It will lead to a meaningful dialogue. The ongoing industrial strike action by the union is still on. Our strike is not just about the IPPIS,” he said.
The ASUU president wondered why the federal government directed the vice-chancellors to pay lecturers with their Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“Our members weren’t paid with BVN in the past,” he added.
ASUU also expressed optimism that a Nigerian-made vaccine for the treatment of COVID-19 is achievable, provided there is political will to empower the nation’s biomedical and behavioural scientists, among other scholars, to undertake cutting-edge researches.
Ogunyemi expressed the conviction in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, when he led members of the association to donate 1,000 pieces of hand sanitisers to the state government.
Delivering the items to the state’s Deputy Governor, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele, Ogunyemi, said Nigeria could develop a vaccine for COVID-19 provided experts the researchers were well funded.
“For instance, conscious and determined investment in university education at national and sub-national levels would give our country quality medical scientists, behavioural scientists, creative scholars and other cream of informed citizens who can respond intelligently to challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To achieve better results, we believe Nigerian governments at the federal and state levels need to work with public intellectuals and patriotic trade unions like ASUU.
“We also believe such collaborative efforts should be channelled towards addressing issues of funding, conditions of service, academic freedom and university autonomy and other matters which are germane to repositioning Nigerian universities for global competitiveness,” he stated.
Ogunyemi added that ASUU’s involvement in the war against COVID-19 pandemic was consequent upon the directive issued to all its 70 branches and 13 zones, to play active roles in the fight against the spread of the virus in Nigeria.