The Academic Staff Union of Universities has said its members are not beggars and the stoppage of their salaries by the government won’t force them to call off their strike.
The leadership of the union also commended the members for keeping faith with the union despite the hardship imposed on their families as a result of the No-Work-No-Pay directive of the Federal Government.
Following the failure of the government to meet some lingering demands of the union, ASUU on February 14, 2022 announced a one-month warning strike, followed by another eight-week strike before it eventually commenced its indefinite strike.
The continued strike led to the imposition of No-Work-No-Pay by the Federal Government. The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the directive was in compliance with Section 43 of the Labour Law.
Though some of the demands by the union are still undergoing negotiations, the ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, expressed optimism that the union was on the threshold of victory.
He however noted that the resolve of the union forced the government to engage in negotiations.
He said, “As the struggle continues, our members are commended for their commitment and steadfastness in the patriotic struggle for the survival of the university system in our country.
“Our cast-iron resolve has forced the government to sit down and negotiate with us. We have had five meetings with the Federal Government team and two meetings with the Minister of Education. The renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement is progressing smoothly and has reached an advanced stage.
“However, we must remain focused to the end of this struggle. UTAS (University Transparency and Accountability Solution) has been tested for the third time. So far, NITDA (National Information Technology Development Agency) has tested UTAS and UPS and will start testing IPPIS next week. We are undeterred by the antics of some government officials in this respect.
The PUNCH had reported that lecturers in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education have embarked on no fewer than 719 days of strike during the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Education rights groups such as Reform Education Nigeria, Education Rights Campaign among others have continued to call for a total reform of the tertiary education sector.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta University branch of the union has said the state government has no power to disrupt its ongoing strike by directing lecturers in its universities to return to the classroom.
The state government had suspended all union activities in institutions of higher learning in the state following protest by students of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, over the lingering ASUU strike.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, the ASUU Chairman in NDU, Bayelsa State, Prof Tombara Kingdom, said the union’s action was captured in the exclusive legislative list of the constitution and could not be dismissed by the Edo State government.
He added, “We have told our members not to go back to the classrooms, and I believe the members of ASUU in Ambrose Alli University will not listen to that directive from the state government. The state government should go back and look at the law books. They should know that they don’t have that power to suspend union activities. Union activities are on the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution.
“I advise them (Edo State Government) to retrace their steps so they can realise that they don’t have any power to suspend union activities. Such a directive from the state government is null and void. It is ultra vires. It will not hold water; they are just wasting their time.