The Academic Staff Union of Universities has indicated its readiness to go on an industrial strike should the federal government fail to address its demands by the end of January 2020.
The university teachers’ union stated this in a report by the Punch.
Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU president, rejected the N52.5 billion naira the government had released, in fulfilment of the terms of agreement agreed with the body.
The sums are N30 billion for the University Revitalisation Fund, and N22.5 billion, as Earned Academic Allowance.
Osodeke described the released funds as a far cry from what the union and the government agreed on.
“This is what our political class is doing. They believe that once they throw a little money, everybody will run back. That is the problem. So, it is not about the token they have given. There are more fundamental issues”, said Osodeke.
“The issue is not about money. There is the issue of renegotiation, there is the issue of resuscitation of the universities, and there is the issue of UTAS. So, you don’t just come and throw a little money and think the challenge has been resolved.
“Our going on strike is a possibility. The only reason we relaxed is because a group, Nigeria Inter-Religious Council, intervened. We respect the group so much.The group told us they would intervene and they would ensure that the government implements our agreement. That is why we agreed to the benefit of the Federal Government”.
He also said the union had given the government till the end of January to meet its demands, based on the intervention of the religious body.
Speaking for the government, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of State for Education, insisted the government had fulfilled the union’s demands.
“They said you didn’t pay them; you paid them, they say it is not enough. You pay them the one they say is NEEDS assessment, they have not even finished utilising the last one, they said you must bring another one. We said okay, we agreed. They said send money for earned allowance, we sent it,” said the Minister.
The Nigerian university system has a notorious history of strike actions by lecturers, due to disagreements with the successive governments on emoluments and the running of public universities. The latest had seen the lecturers’ union embark on a nine months strike that ended on December 24, 2020.