ASUU threatens strike over unmet demands

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Students during the protestThe Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos, said the union may consider going on strike if the government does not respond to its demands after all the nationwide protests.

For some weeks now, ASUU chapters have been engaging in nationwide protests.

They also wrote open letters to the Federal Government to request that the agreements the government had with the union be implemented.

Members of ASUU-UNILAG and students on Thursday protested the nine unresolved demands of the union by the Federal Government.

The students, who came out to support their lecturers, displayed placards with inscriptions including “Education is life; proper funding of university education is non-negotiable;” “Lecturers too want an earthly reward for teaching all professionals;” and “Stop establishing universities you cannot fund” among others.

They marched from Julius Berger Hall on the campus to the university gate and back to the ASUU-UNILAG secretariat.

Speaking during the protest, the chairman, of ASUU-UNILAG, Prof. Kayode Adebayo, maintained that the purpose of the nationwide protests was to inform the public about the insensitivity and silence of the government on the union’s demands.

“We are sensitising the public to prevail on the government so that we don’t go on strike. If nothing significant comes out after all these protests, we will decide to go on strike at our next NEC meeting.

“They should not force our union to take that route. We have wicked politicians who want to force ASUU to go on strike. We love our classrooms. We love our students, it is the Nigerian government that is striking against you, not ASUU,” he said.

Also speaking, a former chairman, ASUU-UNILAG, Dr Dele Ashiru, said lecturers in Nigeria are the least paid, adding that there was a plan to hand over Nigerian public universities to foreign investors.

“We are gathered here to call on the Federal Government to rethink its insensitivity, lacklustre and bankrupt policies in Nigeria’s education system. No nation can rise above its level of education system.

“Successive governments in Nigeria have continued to pay lip service to the development of education. For the past 15 years, the agreement we signed with the government which is supposed to be renewed every year, has never been visited.

“We have been receiving the same salary since 2009. Despite several appeals and consultations to get the government to renegotiate, the government turned deaf ears,” he said.

The protesting lecturers and students sang solidarity songs as they distributed handbills listing their nine demands, which included the conclusion of the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU agreement; Agreement based on Nimi Briggs Committee’s draft Agreement of 2021; release of withheld three-and-half months salaries on account of the 2022 strike action; release of unpaid salaries of staff on sabbatical, part-time, and adjunct appointments owing to the application of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System; release of outstanding third-party deductions such as check-off dues and cooperative contributions; Funding for revitalisation of public universities (partly captured in 2023 Federal Government’s Budget).

Others are Earned Academic Allowances (partly captured in the 2023 Federal Government’s Budget); proliferation of universities by Federal and State Governments; implementation of the reports of visitation panels to universities, and University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (in place of IPPIS).

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