Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have asked Nigerians to hold the Federal Government responsible for their next action on the government’s failure to honour an agreement it signed with them.
ASUU spoke of a plan to hold an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) this week with its leaders and principal officials to decide its members’ next line of action.
The union said it will follow up its NEC meeting with consultations with all its chapters should the government fail to implement its promises to its aggrieved lecturers.
ASUU’s latest threat followed the expiration of the August 31 deadline issued to the Federal Government to meet its demands.
The Federal Government has not spoken on the latest agitations by the varsity teachers.
Labour and Employment Dr. Chris Ngige again could be reached for reaction as the several calls placed to his mobile phone last night were not returned.
ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke said the NEC would convene to weigh available options and take a position.
The lecturers called off their eight-month strike in December last year after ASUU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government.
After several complaints of breach of agreement, the federal government team, led by Ngige, met with the lecturers on August 2 to review the level of implementation of the MoU.
Ngige said the Federal Government, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), will release N30 billion as a revitalisation fund to universities the following week.
Osodeke however accused the government of failing to release the money and implement other agreements after the August meeting.
He alleged government officials have stopped picking calls from ASUU leaders.
Prof Osodeke said: “ASUU never proposed a strike, we said if the government does not meet all our demands by the end of August, the union will meet and consider the action to take.
“But the country should hold the government responsible for any action we take and that was what we said we didn’t mention embarking on strike.
“The ASUU president cannot just wake up one morning and pronounce we are going on strike, not even the principal officers, we have to go through our branches.
“The ultimatum will end today so we will hold a meeting with our members to determine the way forward.”
In the same vein, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has told Nigerians to hold the Federal Government responsible should it embark on another strike.
National President of ASUP, Mr Anderson Ezeibe, in an interview, said the government had failed to implement the agreement they had with them three months ago.
He explained that ASUP met with the FG last week Thursday on the revitalisation fund which had been approved but yet to be released.
Ezeibe said, “The three-month deadline they gave us is supposed to end on the 10th of September. That is why I said we need to finish all these processes with the government before we issue an official statement.
“We met with the government last week Thursday. The key issue is the revitalisation fund of N15bn, there is approval for it but the fund is still yet to be released. The multi-stakeholder committee that is expected to be set up to work out the utility of the fund has not been set up. As a union, we want to make sure that the money serves the purpose for which it has been released and we want to have a broad-based monitoring and evaluation mechanism in place to allocate the funds among public polytechnics and colleges of technology and identify projects that the fund would serve, that multi-stakeholder committee has not to be set up.”
He also complained that the union was not happy over the decision of the government to release the minimum wage arrears in October 2021.
“The communication we have regarding the minimum wage arrears points to the direction that the fund will be released towards the end of October 2021. As a union, we are not excited about this because we felt that the money is supposed to have been released within these three months. As a union, we have been at the forefront of this particular agitation. What they are saying is that we have to do some sort of verifications, we felt that we would have collected our own pay rather than taking us back to October where there is a verification process.
“Also, they have not set up a committee to renegotiate our agreement. The Governing Councils are in place but the re-negotiation committee is yet to be set up,” he said.