The Academic Staff Union of Universities, Owerri Zone has warned that it will embark on indefinite strike if the Federal Government refuses to address the 2009 agreement it signed with the union.
The union announced this at a press conference at Awka’s Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Federal University of Technology in Owerri, Imo State University in Owerri, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University in Igbariam, and Michael Okpara University of Agriculture in Umudike were among the union leaders present.
They said, “the magnanimity of ASUU that resulted in various MOUs and MOAs arising from the 2009 agreement has been spurned by the Federal Government.”
The ASUU Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Uzo Onyebinama, stated that some lecturers are being owed as much as 10 months’ salary.
“As we speak now, the Federal Government is in arrears of major components of the agreement, and that includes funding for the revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, and the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
“The consequences of the Federal Government’s refusal to implement the 2009 agreement is that the union has resolved to go on an indefinite strike any moment and once it begins, it will not stop until all agreements are fulfilled.”
Also, the zonal Coordinator of the Benin Zone ASUU, Prof. Fred Esumeh, said the impending strike by the nation’s university lecturers is to draw government attention to their plights and not to derail academic activities.
Esumeh said, “Strike is less frequent in the western world because their governments act. But here in Nigeria, you have to go on strike frequently before the government can act.
“The Nigerian universities are no longer attractive to foreign lecturers, including those from neighboring countries.
“This is due to the prevailing slave wage where the highest-ranked professor earns less than a thousand dollars monthly.”
The Coordinator, Ibadan zone, ASUU, Prof Oyebamiji Oyegoke, also called on Nigerians to intervene “at this critical moment before our members withdraw their services.”
He noted that 53 lecturers of the University of Ibadan and several others in state universities, including the Ebonyi State University, have not been paid salaries for more than one year.
He said: “Fifty-three lecturers of the University of Ibadan have not been paid their salaries since December 2020 till date, while lecturers in the Ebonyi State University have not been paid their salaries for months and the state governor has established two more universities without paying the lecturers of the existing one.”
Oyegoke said ASUU was not making fresh demands but demanding full implementation of the 2020 MoA freely signed by the Federal Government and the union.
He said: “Our baseline is the full implementation of the 2020 MoA freely signed by the Federal Government and the union. This calls for a lot of concern. There’s no commitment to the agreement entered into. The government is not sensitive to the welfare of workers. That’s why we’re using these channels to sensitise the people so that they won’t see us as using strike as the only tool of fighting for our demands
“While we commend interventions of notable Nigerians in the matter, it should be stated here that it is about actions and not deliberations. These are no new demands. Some of our members have not been paid salaries since December last year and they’re still working. It shows commitment on our part.
“Selective treatment of issues in dispute instead of a comprehensive approach will no longer be acceptable to our members. We shall no longer take the issue of the welfare of our members for granted. Any treatment of MoA of 2020 that precludes its full implementation and rejection of the IPPIS will be incomplete. If it has taken ASUU’s position of resuming a suspended strike action to rouse the government from its sleep of non-implementation of the MoA of 2020, one needs to ask how many of such reminders should ASUU give before its demands are met.
“It is on the basis of the failure of the government to meet up with the promises made as attested to in the MoA of 2020 that the union is calling on Nigerians to intervene at this critical moment.”