ASUU blames Ngige for prolonged strike, vows not to back down

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has vowed to continue its five-month-old strike.

The ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who addressed journalists at a media briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, also blamed the industrial action on the tardiness of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

The union embarked on a 30-day warning strike on February 14 over the Federal government’s refusal to honour the agreement signed by both parties.

It later extended the strike at least three more times since it commenced more than five months ago.

The lecturers are protesting the poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and earned academic allowances as well as the adoption of Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) as the payment platform for staff in the coutry’s institutions.

Osodeke insisted that the lingering strike was exacerbated by the insincerity of the minister.

He added that Ngige failed to play his required role as the employer of labour.

The union, therefore, reassured Nigerians of its commitment to work in their interests for the betterment of public universities.

He said: “It has become imperative for us in the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to update Nigerians and lovers of education everywhere in the world on the status of our ongoing nationwide strike action which began on 14th February 2022.

“The need for doing so could be traced to two sources. First, as a union of intellectuals that deals with facts and verifiable claims, there is a need to put the records straight on our engagements with the government.

“This need becomes very compelling against the backdrop of the statements recently pushed out from the government quarters. Specifically, there have been insinuations by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that there was no agreement between ASUU and the government; that ASUU sat down to fix its own members’ salaries; and that our Union asked representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to recuse themselves from the negotiations.

“Also, it appears that Dr. Ngige has deliberately misrepresented the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention on the collective bargaining agreement and the roles of a conciliator to serve his propagandist interest in this matter.

“It is against the principle of natural justice and the doctrine of equality for Dr. Ngige who carries himself as if he has personal scores to settle with ASUU and shoots down the Union everywhere it matters to assume the role of conciliator.

“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. Dr. Ngige earlier told whoever cared to listen that he was not the employer of university academics and advised the union to march to the Ministry of Education. Nigerians may wish to know why he has suddenly turned around to constitute himself into an impediment to an amicable resolution of the ongoing crisis.

“ASUU appreciates some recent efforts by critical stakeholders across the broad spectrum of the Nigerian society to resolve the logjam and restore normalcy on our university campuses. The initiatives of the NLC and its affiliate unions are quite commendable. But it is not over until it is over! We also acknowledge the interest of political actors in various groups and platforms who have promised to wade in.

“ASUU’s doors of engagements are wide open to all, but we remain unsympathetic to political party sentiments and blackmail irrespective of where such are coming. For a greater and better Nigeria, education is key. So, we remain focused on our goal of making the Nigerian University system internationally competitive and our getting our products to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their peers in any part of the world.

“However, ASUU shall continue to be guided by the sacred canons of integrity, objectivity, and responsibility to which both academics and media practitioners subscribe. It is our fervent hope and desire that the current groundswell of interests would culminate in a convergence of solutions to this avoidable crisis in the overall interest of Nigeria. Together, we shall win.”

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