The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has appealed to the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to remain calm in view of their latest outcry over the reported half-salary payment by the Federal Government.The Speaker in a statement he personally signed on Monday noted that efforts to find a lasting solution to the concerns frequently raised by ASUU were on. He, however, assured that President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated interest to wade into the latest concerns raised by the union.“When the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called off their industrial action three weeks ago, it meant that academic activities could resume in our nation’s public universities, and students could return to their academic pursuits after the prolonged interruption. This decision was rightly heralded nationwide as the correct decision.“Since then, the Executive and the House of Representatives have worked to address the issues that led to the strike. We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes N170 billion to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers. The Bill also includes additional N300 billion revitalization funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.“Furthermore, the House of Representatives has convened the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). This effort is being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.”Gbajabiamila noted that the position taken by the Federal Government that it was not obligated to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike, was premised on the law and the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required. Therefore, I urge all parties to be patient and grant each other the presumption of goodwill to the extent necessary to achieve our shared objectives. This is not a time for political brinkmanship.“There is no more pressing objective than to preclude the possibility of further disruptions to the academic calendar of the universities. We must prevent this possibility by all means, as these disruptions risk the promise and potential of our nation’s youth,” he said.Speaker Gbajabiamila also restated his commitment to provide sustainable reforms to the Nigerian tertiary education system.He noted that the challenges facing Nigerian tertiary education were multifaceted, hence the need for all stakeholders to come together and proffer solutions.To this end, the Speaker advocated a national tertiary education summit during which stakeholders would come up with ways to make things better in the sector.Gbajabiamila said three weeks ago, he called for a national conversation on the substantive reforms required to address the underlying issues bedevilling public tertiary education in Nigeria.“To that end, the House of Representatives is convening a National Summit on Tertiary Education Reform. We have called for papers and memoranda from members of the public. The submissions we receive and expert presentations at the Summit will inform our policy recommendations and actions.“I urge all citizens and stakeholders to participate in this crucial effort to reinvent our public tertiary institutions into respected citadels of learning,” he added.
The president of the House of Representatives, representative Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to remain calm in the face of his demand for payment of half of the government's salary.
In a statement he personally signed in Abuja on Monday, the Spokesman noted that efforts are continuing to find lasting solutions to frequently raised concerns.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari had shown an interest in addressing the latest concerns raised.
"When ASUU canceled its industrial action three weeks ago, it meant academic activities could resume at our nation's public universities," he said.
He said the executive and the House of Representatives had worked to address the issues that led to the strike, adding that the House is currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill.
This, according to him, includes N170 billion to provide a level increase in the welfare package of university professors.
He said the bill included an additional N300 billion revitalization fund to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.
“In addition, the House of Representatives has convened the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), ASUU and other interested parties to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) in the Integrated Personnel Information System and Payroll (IPPIS). )," he said.
He said the effort was being overseen by the House Higher Education Committee, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.
Gbajabiamila, however, pointed out that the position taken that he is not obliged to pay teachers salaries for the time they spend on strike is based on the law.
He said the decision was also based on the government's legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.
The exhibitor said that intervention had been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to speakers, adding that he hoped for favorable consideration.
He said that Buhari had expressed his desire to do what was prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.
Gbajabiamila said the chamber is convening a national summit on tertiary education reform, adding that he had requested documents and memos from members of the public.
He said the submissions received, as well as expert presentations at the summit, would inform policy recommendations and actions.
Edited Oropo/Julius Toba-Jegede
Source Credit: NAN
Stakeholders in the education sector in Bauchi State have expressed joy over the suspension of the eight-month-old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
They stakeholders including students, parents and educationists who spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Bauchi on Friday, described the action as “welcome development”.
The lecturers went on strike on Feb. 14, 2022 to press home for their demands.
These include implementation of agreement reached with the Federal Government on issues such as funding for revitalisation of public universities and Earned Academic Allowances.
Others are adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as an alternative payment platform in the university system and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, among others.
After series of failed negotiations, between the parties, the federal government referred the matter to the National Industrial Court asking it to order the lecturers to call off the strike.
The court on Sept. 21, ordered the union to end the strike.
Subsequently, the union challenged the judgment at the Appeal Court.
However, the Appeal Court also ruled in favour of the government asking ASUU to resume work.
ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who announced the development in a statement, said the action was sequel to the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and the appeals made by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Olubunmi Adetoye, a student of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), Bauchi, said he was elated by the development.
“I am happy that the strike is over.
We don’t expect any other thing that will disrupt academic activities or prolong our stay in schools.
“From the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 to the first ASUU strike during the period and with this recent one, we lost two academic sessions consecutively.
“We thank God that we are back in school to pick up the pieces and move on,” he said.
He said many students who were 29 years of age before the strike had turned 30, and exempted from participation in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Corroboting the earlier opinion, Alhassan Adam, Coordinator, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), North-East Zone, said the development would enable the students to return to school to resume normal academic activities.
“This is what we are agitating for.
We appreciate the kind gesture of our lecturers for giving the federal government window to reconcile,” he said.
Adam, however, urged the students to pay more attention to their studies as they returned to their various institutions.
“I know, we may have a lot of challenges, but let us look for something that would sustain us throughout the semester,” he said.
Also, Mr Ismael Raji, a parent, said the suspension of the strike was a welcome development because his children had been home for so long.
He said the development was a relief to most parents as their children would go back to school.
Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK) branch of ASUU has vowed to continue with the union’s national strike in spite of management’s directive to students to resume school.
Addressing newsmen on Friday in Keffi, the branch’s chairman, Dr Samuel Alu, described the management’s directive as a reckless one and a betrayal.
He vowed that the varsity’s lecturers would not be forced to return to the lecture theatres against their wish.
“The union is very much familiar with threats, blackmail and propaganda issued by certain quarters in respect to the struggle.
“Needless to say that we are conversant with and full of expectation of the antics to sabotage our struggle and are well prepared for it.
“For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU is one and the same.
As such, ASUU at NSUK cannot be seen to operate in isolation of other ASUU branches.
“It is operating in full compliance with directives of the national secretariat,’’ said.
Alu expressed dismay that the university’s management issued the directive knowing full well that ASUU had appealed against the ruling of the National Industrial Court asking its members to return to the lecture halls.
“In view of the aforementioned, forcing university lecturers to go back to class amounts to illegality and a blatant disregard for the rule of law which could be interpreted as a contempt of court.
“Reopening the university with ASUU still on strike means that the vice-chancellor and his lieutenants are the ones to teach the students,’’ Alu stressed.
He expressed appreciation of the understanding and resilience of students and parents, whom, he said, had been making sacrifices for the betterment of the future and to save the education sector from total collapse.
“As far as NSUK branch of ASUU is concerned, we are in a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike.
“I am reiterating here that ASUU NSUK branch will remain on strike until the national body suspends the strike when all demands of ASUU have been met by the Federal Government,’’ Alu said.
The university registrar, Mr Bala Ahmed, issued the statement asking students to resume school.
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over to demand that the Federal Government meets agreements signed in 2009. The agreements covered the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, and the release of Earned Academic Allowances for lecturers.
It is also demanding that the Federal government should not be paying lecturers the same way it pays its other employees, using the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The union is demanding that rather than use the IPPIS, government should pay its members using the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform developed by the universities themselves.
Noble Youths Mass Support Association (NYMSA), an FCT youth group, has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to obey the resumption order given by the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mr Godwin Onmonya, the National Coordinator of the group, made the call while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in Gwagwalada, FCT.
He said the strike was having negative impacts on students.
The union, through its President, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke, had embarked on a nationwide warning strike since Feb. 14 to press home its demands, stressing that the action would continue until their demands were met.
Some of the lecturers demands were funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and alleged inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.
The strike, which entered its seventh month, forced the Federal Government to institute a suit at the court to halt the strike and enable students to resume.
However, students through the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS), embarked on protests by blocking entrance to the International Airport Lagos, threatening to block other major roads, if the demands were not met by government.
The court granted the resumption order, pending the determination of the substantive suit, at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, pursuant to his powers on Labour Laws of the Federation.
Similarly, Mr Luka Ayuba, a parent in Gwagwalada Area Council, whose child was studying veterinary medicine at the University of Abuja, said that the strike had made his son shift focus to other things.
“After each episode of strike, the children are no more focused and they end up not graduating within the stipulated years.
“My only pain is that the people in government are not feeling it because their own children are not in public schools but abroad or in private schools,” he said.
Meanwhile, ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Abuja, Dr Salawu Lawal, had earlier said there would be no resumption in public universities until the renegotiated 2009 agreement was signed, implemented and the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) deployed.
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, has urged the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to resolve the lingering crisis between them.
Sanusi made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in New York on the sidelines of a three-day Transforming Education Summit.
The former CBN governor spoke to NAN after he chaired an event tagged ‘Transforming Education through Grassroots Innovation: A Localised Teacher-Led Approach’ on the sidelines of the ongoning UN General Assembly.
Sanusi, said ASUU strike could be addressed through dialogue, noting that the union needed to know that the longer it stayed out of school, it was the students who would suffer for it.
“Government needs to recongise that teachers are human beings; we are in a country with high level of inflation and salary don’t take teacher anywhere and teaching is a profession that needs to be valued from lowest to highest.
“Our education employees are staff of health establishment too, what we don’t know is that we have lost so many academics, many people who go abroad to do PhD don’t come back.
“Many medical doctors working in Nigeria have gone abroad,’’ he said.
The former CBN boss, who was the 14th Emir of Kano, said brain drain had impacted negatively on the economy.
“It is a crisis because we need the doctors in Nigeria, we need the teachers in Nigeria because we have invested so much in training them.
“Both sides (ASUU and Federal Government) have a stake in sitting down and have a dialogue, making compromises, I believe it can be resolved in good faith,’’ he said.
Sanusi also urged the government to invest in education to encourage teachers to be at their best, adding that teachers were once highly respected in the society in time past, adding that “but now people underrate the value of education.
“What is happening now is that we have people who have moved into authority and who do not value education as the society is so much materialistic.
“It is all about money now and teachers are looked down upon because they don’t have money.
“Most of these teachers have option to do other courses but they chose to educate our children and contribute to our society.
“So, we need to look at our value system and go back to our traditional value system of respecting teachers and if we treat them with respect, we will get a lot from them,’’ he said.
Speaking to journalists on the Transforming Education Summit and the International Finance Facility for Education, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said Education systems around the world needed “more, not less money”.
Guterres, speaking alongside his Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, drew attention to the critical issue of innovative financing for education.
He reminded participants that the “world is experiencing multiple crises”, and governments, businesses and families everywhere are feeling the financial strain.
“Moreover, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, two-thirds of countries have cut their education budgets.
“But education is the building block for peaceful, prosperous, stable societies; reducing investment virtually guarantees more serious crises further down the line,’’ he said Guterres argued that wealthy countries could increase funding from domestic sources as many developing nations were being hit by the cost-of-living crisis, saying, they urgently needed support for education.
He, then, spotlighted the role of the International Finance Facility for Education to get financing to lower-middle-income countries – home to 700 million children who are out of school – and to the majority of the world’s displaced and refugee children.
According to the UN chief, the Facility is not a new fund, but a mechanism to increase the resources available to multilateral banks to provide low-cost education finance.
“In time, we expect it to grow into a $10 billion dollars facility to educate tomorrow’s generation of young people,” he said.
“It will complement and work alongside existing tools, like the Global Partnership for Education, that provide grants and other assistance”.
The secretary-general congratulated his Special Envoy and all the countries and institutions involved in getting the facility off the ground.
“I urge all international donors and philanthropic organisations to back it,” he said.
Earlier, Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed opened Day 2 of the Summit, “Solutions day,” by recapping the need for education transformation; equity and inclusion; a rethink of the curricula and innovation in teaching.
“But loud and clear, we need more and better financing,” she stressed.
“We can’t do this with fresh air, it has to be fueled”.
She described education as “a huge ecosystem” that supports many other lofty goals and called for “a sense of urgency” in scaling up projects.
“No more pilot projects, we know exactly what to do” she said.
“It’s all about taking steps forward”.
The three-day Transforming Education Summit which started on Friday, is expected to end on Monday with Leaders Day, making commitment to transform education in their countries.
President Muhammadu Buhari, attended the opening of the High-Level Summit on Transforming Education and Leaders Roundtable and he is expected to make a statement later during the Thematic Session four of the summit on the Digital Transformation of Education.
NAN reports that ASUU had on Feb. 14 embarked on a strike to press home some demands including calls for the government to implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed in December 2020 on funding for the revitalisation of the public universities.
Other demands are Earned Academic Allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), among others.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Government over response its demands, and declared a “comprehensive, total and indefinite” strike.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU President made this known in a statement issued at the end of the Union National Executive Council (NEC) emergency meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the statement is entitled “ASUU strikes are to save public universities”.
It would be recalled that the lecturers have been on strike since Feb. 14, over alleged failure of government to keep to agreements entered with the unions.
The demands of the striking lecturers include issues bordering on funding of universities, salaries and earned allowances of lecturers, among others.
Osodeke said that the meeting was called to review developments since its last resolution that rolled over the nationwide strike action for another four weeks starting from Aug 1. “In view of the foregoing, and following extensive deliberations on government’s response to the resolution of Feb. 14, 2022 , so far, NEC concluded that the demands of the union had not been satisfactorily addressed.
“Consequently, NEC resolved to transmute the roll-over strike to a comprehensive, total and indefinite strike action beginning from 12.01a.
m. on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022,’’ he said.
According to him, NEC observed with regret that the union has experienced a lot of deceit of the highest level in the last five and half years as the Federal Government engaged ASUU in fruitless and unending negotiation without a display of utmost fidelity.
Osodeke said that ASUU and other well-meaning Nigerians had expressed serious disappointment and consternation on the attitude of the government conveyed by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu.
He said that for the avoidance of doubt, however, none of the issues that forced the union to resume the suspended strike as listed in the December 2020 FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) had been satisfactorily addressed by the government to date.
“ The draft renegotiated FGN-ASUU Agreement (second draft) remains unsigned; the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) has not been adopted and deployed to replace the discr
ASUU may have again extended its strike on Monday, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
The decision to again extend the strike for the fourth time was taken after the union’s National Executive Council met at its headquarters at the University of Abuja.
The union embarked on the strike on Feb. 14 demanding for a renegotiation of agreements reached between it and the government in 2009. It is also demanding that government should shelve the payment of members’ salaries using its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) through which it pays its employees.
ASUU is asking government to instead adopt the union’s payment platform option, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Goong, told newsmen that government had taken all possible steps to end the strike.
“Government has already inaugurated a committee to harmonise the IPPIS, UTAS, and UP3, a salary payment platform introduced by another union within the university system.
“This will ensure that the government will pay with only one payment platform that will harmonise all the technical peculiarities.
“If you bring some demands and almost 80 per cent have been attended to, there is no need to drag the strike anymore.
“It is unreasonable for the strike to be lingering seeing that government has worked toward meeting most of the demands,’’ Goong said.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has extended its roll-over strike by another four weeks to give government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.
The President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
Osodeke said that the roll-over strike action would take effect from 12:01 a.
m. on Aug. 1. He said that the decision was reached at an emergency meeting of the National Executive Council of the union held at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, on July 31. He said that the meeting was called to review developments since NEC’s resolution to extend its roll-over strike action by another 12 weeks, effective from May 9. “The NEC meeting took place against the backdrop of government’s obligations as spelt out in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with ASUU on Dec. 23, 2020. “Specifically, NEC recalled that government’s failure to conclude the process of renegotiating the 2009 Agreement, deploy the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and pay outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
“Also government failed to release agreed sum of money for the revitalisation of public universities (Federal and States), address proliferation and governance issues in State Universities, settle promotion arrears, and release withheld salaries of academics.
“Also in the agreement is failure to pay outstanding third-party deductions led to the initial declaration of the roll-over strike on Feb. 14, 2022,” he said.
According to him, NEC viewed with seriousness the recent directive given by the President and Visitor to all Federal Universities that the Minister of Education, in consultation with other government officials, should resolve the lingering crisis and report to him within two weeks.
Osodeke, however, expressed worry why it had taken five full months and needless muscle-flexing for government to come to the realisation of the need for honest engagement.
“NEC acknowledged the growing understanding of the issues and the groundswell of support for the union’s principled demand for a globally competitive university education in Nigeria.
“Nigerian universities must not be reduced to constituency projects that merely exist on paper and our scholars must be incentivised to stay back and do what they know best.
“NEC appreciated the historic nationwide protest of July 26th and 27th organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to further create awareness on the antics of the Nigerian ruling class to destroy public education.
“ASUU renews its commitment to the struggles of NLC in championing the cause of the working and suffering Nigerians.
“NEC observed that non-signing of the draft renegotiated 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement more than one month after it was concluded by Prof. Nimi Briggs-led Committee is further tasking the patience of ASUU members nationwide,” the statement read in part.
The president also said that the on-going trial of the suspended Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, on allegation of fraud had vindicated ASUU’s rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS).
According to him, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is enjoined to release reports of the latest tests on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) vis-a-vis IPPIS without further delay.
He, therefore, said that the ASUU would resist any attempt to truncate the deployment of UTAS with all legitimate means available to the union.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the union had been on strike since Feb. 14, over alleged refusal of the government to keep to agreement entered with the union.
The union demands included implementation of the 2009 renegotiation Agreement, deployment of UTAS, payment of outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), promotion arrears, and release withheld salaries of academics.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have called for a bill to regulate how children of public officers enroll in schools outside the shores of Nigeria.
Prof. Kingdom Tombra, Chairman of the University of Niger Delta University Wilberforce Island chapter of the union, made this known at the solidarity protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday in Yenagoa.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the NLC embarked on the nationwide protest in solidarity with the ASUU and other affiliate unions over the lingering industrial action in public universities in Nigeria.
“If this is done, it will build a better society by developing formidable educational institutions and improve funding of the university system in Nigeria.
“This struggle is not against government, but about the working class and against the ruling class and we are very committed to it “If the rich and poor go to the same university or institution, I don’t think the strike will occur again.
“If they school here and their children are here they will show total support for the university system and the tertiary institutions in Nigeria,” he said.
NAN reports that lecturers in government-owned universities commenced a nationwide strike on Feb. 14 over the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment system in the university sector.
Earlier, Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa who spoke to the organised labour, commended the ASUU and the NLC for the peaceful conduct of the protest, promising to channel their demands to the appropriate quarters.
Also speaking, Mr John Ndiomu, the NLC Chairman in Bayelsa commended the governor for his peaceful disposition.
He said that the workers and the students are being represented in the Nationwide solidarity rally.
Ndiomu, urged the federal government to sign the renegotiated draft agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government.
”Adopt University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) in place IPPIS, Pay Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) “Release of Revitalization Fund, Release white paper on visitation to Federal Universities.
Amend NUC law to control proliferation of state universities without funding,” the labour leader said.