By Kemi Olaitan
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday vowed that it was not ready to suspend its ongoing strike until the federal government pays the outstanding standing salaries of between three and seven months owed their members and also approve the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS), among other demands.
The union in a statement issued yesterday by the Zonal Coordinator of the Ibadan Zone, Prof. Ade Adejumo, berated the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, for stating on a live TV programme in Lagos that government do not owe the lecturers any salary.
He said federal government agencies have been foot-dragging on early resolution of the ongoing strike anchored on implementation of outstanding components of 2009 FG-ASUU agreement, revitalisation funding of universities, unpaid earned academic allowances and renegotiation of the agreement for upward review of salaries of lecturers to conform with contemporary reality.
Adejumo maintained that post-colonial Nigerian governments’ attack on the education sector contributed to the under development of the nation, adding that this is why the government has become a shadow of itself.
According to him, “it should be noted that ASUU went on strike as a result of the combination of three inter-related factors: Nigerian governments’ increasing anti-labour policies and the history of sabotage in the education sector and the government’s refusal to honour the agreement reached with the union for revitalisation of public sector universities.”
He added that ASUU is particularly disappointed because the union assumed that government’s public outlook was based on the anti-corruption constantly orchestrated by the present administration.
He berated President Muhammad Buhari-led government for being insensitive to education and inhuman treatment of lecturers and the knowledge industry.
“We are pained and disturbed that the honourable minister of labour and employment does not seem to be aware that the salaries of the nation’s academic staff in the public universities have not been paid for upward of three to seven months “For the benefit of Nigerians, ASUU wishes to state that in sharp contrast to President Buhari’s directive on University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS), the respective government agencies involved are deliberately delaying its endorsement for implementation. The ministries involved may wish to know that the inhuman treatment that ASUU is being subjected to has further emboldened us to rescue the soul of Nigeria’s public university education. ”
The ASUU boss stated further that the ongoing strike will not be called off until government proactively responds to the demands of the union and make knowledge industry a priority.
“Hence, government and the ministries involved need to do the needful, i.e. meet with ASUU in order for academic activities to resume. The starting point for this is the payment of withheld salaries of academics in Nigeria’s public universities”, he stated.