Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its eight month old industrial action embarked upon on February 14 to compel federal government to implement various agreements it reached with varsity lecturers since 2009.
To this end, the union has asked lecturers to resume work immediately.
The National Executive Council (NEC) of the union held an emergency meeting at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja, on Thursday, where it resolved to suspend the prolonged strike.
A statement signed by ASUU president Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said the union agreed to call off the strike in deference to the appeal by President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well meaning Nigerians.He said: “While
appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed.
“However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022. Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14th October, 2022”.
Osodeke said the meeting reviewed developments since the Union declared an indefinite strike action on 29th August, 2022.
According to ASUU president, during the intervening period, the Minister of Labour and Employment, through a referral, approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) for the interpretation of “the provision of sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, whether the on-going prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which started since 14th February, 2022 is legal even after statutory apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment?” In addition, he asked for an interlocutory order against the continuation of the strike.
He explained that the National Industrial Court in its wisdom gave an order compelling ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the substantive suit. Given the nature of the order, and in the opinion of our counsel, there was the need to appeal the interlocutory injunction granted against our Union at the Court of Appeal.
In addition, Osodeke said the Court of Appeal acknowledged the validity of the grounds of the Union’s appeal but still upheld the order of the lower court and ordered our Union to comply with the ruling of the lower court as condition precedent for the appeal to be heard.
“NEC noted the series of meetings with the leadership of the House of Representatives led by the Hon. Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as intervention efforts of other well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside government and the progress made so far.
“NEC deliberated on the recommendations of the Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila-led Committee within the framework of the FGN/ASUU’s Memorandum of Action(MoA) of 2020 on the contending issues that led to the strike action.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the issues include: Funding for Revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, Proliferation of public Universities, Visitation Panels/Release of White Papers
University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a broad spectrum software to stop illegality and provide for an alternative, payment platform in the university system. Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement,” he said