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Strike continues, ASUU tells FG

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says the union will not call off its six-month-old strike action until the federal government meet their demand.

Addressing journalists in Abuja on Tuesday in Abuja, ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, accused the Ministry of Labour and Employment, led by Dr Chris Ngige as a “Conciliator” for not doing the needful on the lingering strike.

ASUU had on February 14, 2022 embarked on a strike to press home its demands, including government’s investment in the nation’s university infrastructure, and payment of members’ salaries through the recommended University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform, among several others.

Prof Osodeke said the Union would not suspend the strike until all issues raised were addressed permanently.

“ASUU therefore makes bold to say that the Minister of Labour and Employment has taken upon himself the role of unabashed protagonist in our ongoing dispute with the government of Nigeria for some inexplicable reasons” Prof Osodeke stated.

The union says it remained focused on its goal of making the Nigerian University system internationally competitive and getting its products to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers in any part of the world.

“We appreciate the teeming Nigerians for identifying with our vision in this respect. We specifically acknowledge the support and sacrifices of our students (including our members who are running their postgraduate programmes) as well as their parents; they are our critical partners in this transformation project. We in ASUU shall do our utmost best not to let you down” ASUU President noted.

ASUU President said the Ministry of Labour and Employment, as the chief labour ministry of the country, is principally expected to apprehend disputes between employers and employees with a view to settling such disputes.

“However, ASUU has always had serious reservations about the claim of ‘conciliation’ by someone who has taken sides in the dispute, or by unabashed protagonist in the crisis such as the current Minister of Labour and Employment. It is antithetical to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions (98, 151 & 154) on collective bargaining.

On the issue of funding of public universities, Prof Osodeke said it has become the pastime of government officials to talk tough about billions and trillions of naira whenever the thorny issues of education and health sectors’ funding come up for mention.

ASUU believes that the idea of availability of funds is a dynamic process. For instance, government can mobilize funds from different sources including non budgetary outlets like stamp-duty, GSM and alcoholic taxes.

“We restate our opposition to the proliferation of universities and other tertiary institutions merely for political gains or electoral value. Nigerians should read through the intentions of hypocritic political jobbers when dangling the carrots of siting institutions they have no intention of developing to compete with others in Africa and beyond,” He stated.

He lamented that various sum of money in the same region which could have been deployed for human capacity development and public good usually disappear into the thin air at the end of the day.

Reporting by Daniel Adejo; editing by Adeniyi Bakare