STRIKE: ASUU FIXES DATE FOR STATE CONGRESSES

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NATIONAL president of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, has confirmed that the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union will meet tomorrow to take position on whether to call off the strike or extend it based on the offers by the Federal Government.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the branches of ASUU nationwide would hold their state congresses on Thursday to harvest inputs of members and come up with a position to be communicated to the headquarters of the union.

Osodeke, however, did not say which date the NEC meeting would hold but sources said it would hold on Sunday.

“We will meet and discuss and let you know the outcome,” Osodeke said in response to a question on the next line of action the union is taking based on the Federal Government’s offer and expiration of the one-month rollover strike on August 28.

According to a source, the offers by the Federal Government include 35 percent salary increase, as well as the position of government on the no-work-no-pay policy by which the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the lecturers would not be paid for about seven months they have been on strike.

The ASUU coordinator of Port Harcourt zone, Stanley Ogoun, had revealed that the Federal Government offered to increase the salaries of professors by N60,000 while other lecturers would have their salaries increased within the range of N30,000 and N60,000.

He also noted that the government promised to release the revitalisation fund of N170 billion which would be included in the 2023 budget.

While the last meeting between the Federal Government team and ASUU leadership was deadlocked because of rejection of the proposed 35 percent salary hike, the disagreement was aggravated by the comments credited to the Minister of Education that ASUU would not be paid for the months they have been on strike.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has commenced the process of registration of the Congress of University Academics (CONUA), a splinter group of ASUU, to stand as a separate trade union in public universities in Nigeria.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the group which had been referred to ministerial committee constituted by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, is said to have met all the essential requirement for registration.

National coordinator of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, also confirmed to Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday that his group had met with the committee.

Sunmonu recently called on the Federal Government to without delay, register and recognise it as an academic staff union in the university system in Nigeria. He claimed that it has met all conditions required for it to be so registered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Sunmonu further disclosed that when the Association was formed in February 2018, it applied to Ministry of Labour and Employment for registration as trade union and that in 2020 a ministerial committee was set up by Ngige to look into the application of the association.

A top official at the Federal Ministry of Education, also confirmed on Tuesday that CONUA had since submitted the application to the government to be recognised as a separate body. Sunmonu, told Nigerian Tribune that he was sure the committee report would be ready, saying the Minister of State for Labour, Mr Festus Keyamo, made reference to it during an interview with Arise Television, recently that Federal Government was delaying registration of CONUA because of respect for ASUU.

He quoted Keyamo as saying publicly that CONUA has met all requirements for it to be registered as a trade union “but we don’t know what is still delaying that.” Sunmonu also debunked insinuations that the government wanted to use his group to destabilise ASUU.

In a similar development, the Ibadan zone of ASUU on Tuesday, said the demands of the union are not selfserving but altruistic.

As contained in a release by its zonal coordinator, Professor Oyebamiji Oyegoke, the union said what it was pushing for was for repositioning of universities for greater efficiency in national development and technological advancement.

He added that what the union sought was massive and sustained funding for our universities; a reversal of apparent decay in the university system, enhanced and competitive remuneration for overworked academic staff in Nigerian universities.

He asked Nigerians to join ASUU to ask the Federal Government of Nigeria to toe the path of honour by respecting the agreement it freely entered with our union. He added that unless Nigerians join ASUU to struggle and deliver public funded universities, children of the common man may find access to qualitative education difficult.

Oyegoke added that the Ibadan zone joined the leadership of the union to reject what it called disrespectful and demeaning award of money and jettisoning collective bargaining in arriving at what the Federal Government presented to the union.

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