ASUU Suspends 9-month-old Strike

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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its industrial action that has disrupted academic activities for nine months.
Addressing a press conference Wednesday morning at the University of Abuja, ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said the decision to go back to the classroom was made based on agreement reached with the Federal Government at a meeting held on Tuesday, which addressed most of the demands of the union.
He said that an implementation committee had been set up to monitor the implementation of the agreements.

“On the basis of the foregoing, the NEC resolved that the current strike by the union should be suspended conditionally with effect from 12.01 a.m Thursday, December 24, 2020. However, should government fail to fullfil its own part of the agreement, ASUU will resume its suspended strike as deemed necessary,” he said.

The current ASUU strike began on March 23 after its two-week warning strike ended without resolution of their dispute with government.
The closure of the universities engendered by the indefinite strike snowballed into further shut down of schools by the government following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

Students of Nigerian government-owned universities have lost the entire academic year to the long dispute between government and lecturers.

ASUU president who read out some of the esolutions reached by ASUU NEC at its meeting held on Tuesday night to review reports of agreement with the federal government said that the union resolved to give another chance to federal government to prove that it can be trusted.
He  said the NEC agreed to accept agreements reached between ASUU and the federal government on Tuesday December, 2020 and resolved to consciously and diligently monitor its implementation.
When asked if the federal government had been able keep to keep its promise to start payment of salary arrears of ASUU members, Ogunyemi said that it had started though not completed yet.
Ogunyemi said  that it was also agreed that no ASUU member should suffer any loss of deserved benefits as a result of participation in the strike.
He  said that the union resolved to pursue fervently the areas in the ASUU-FG agreement of 2009 and Memoradum of Action 2013 that require legislation such as the mainstreaming of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) into the annual budget and amendment of the Executive Bill in respect of the National University Commission (NUC) Act 2004.
“And finally, NEC resolved to conditionally suspend the strike action embarked upon on March 23, 2020, with effect from 12.01 a.m on Thursday, December 24, 2020,” he said.
Ogunyemi listed key demands of ASUU for which agreement was reached to include, the immediate release of Earned Academic Allowances and mainstreaming of the EAA into the annual budget, using the agreed formula, to immediately engage the universities and other research centres in the fight against covid-19.
He said that part of the agreement was that government should expedite action on the test processes and ensure the deployment of the University Transperancy and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for the payment of salaries in the university system.
He said that the integrity test on UTAS was at the last stage now.
In addition, Ogunyemi said that ASUU expects government should fast track the FG-ASUU re-negotiation exercise to ensure that it was concluded within the timelines agreed by both parties.
On it’s part, Ogunyemi said “ASUU has undertaken to go back to classrooms, laboratories to do our best for our students and our country.
*We are going back to rekindle the motivation and aspirations in our members to strive to encourage our students to excel, all in expectations that governments, both federal and state, will sincerely fullfil their own part of the bargain,” he said.
Ogunyemi listed some of the key demands tabled by ASUU and which ignited the current strike action,  which include funding for revitalization of public university infrastructure, Earned Academic Allowances, withheld salaries, proliferation of state universities, visitation panels, reconstitution of the government re-negotiation  team and the replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transperancy and Accountability Solution (UTAS).