By Rejoice Ihedioha

The Academic Staff  Union of Universities (ASUU) FUTO chapter, has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if the  Federal government  fails to  implement the agreement reached with the union.

The chairman, Dr Ihejirika who stated this yesterday during a press briefing at ASUU Secretariat said,” the  Federal government entered into an agreement with this union in 2009 on issues bothering on funding for revitalization of public universities,new salary structure, constitution of visitation panels to the public universities and other issues”. 

“Rather than implement the 2009 agreement and the various memoranda of understanding (MoU)and memoranda of action (MoA) ,the government has not fulfilled any of them rather they introduced another fraudulent payment system called the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) which has cut off salaries of members and has kept some lecturers without salaries  for months.”

He added, that in 2009 when this agreement on new salary structure was signed by the Federal government, the  dollar to naira exchange rate was 1 USD to 145-150 NGN but today the exchange rate has tripled, which explains why the take home pay of a Professor at the bar in Nigerian Universities is below 1000USD,adding that with the state of the Nigerian economy today, the paltry and IPPIS amputated 2009 salary structure cannot take any of their members home which is the major reason for the rate of brain drain currently being experienced in the Nigerian University System.

He also, noted that between 2009 till date, several MoUs and MoAs have been signed with the federal government but none has been implemented, adding that sequel to the failure of IPPIS to capture the peculiarities of the university system, ASUU offered a more credible, home grown and corruption free system called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).Yet, the federal government has held on to the IPPIS even when the former surmounted all the integrity tests.

In a release jointly signed by Dr Chinedu Ihejirika and Dr Etienne Chinakwe as chairperson and secretary ASUU  FUTO respectively, the union noted that they are not making any fresh demands, rather are insisting that all MoUs and MoAs be implemented, which include signing of the renegotiated 2009 agreement, adoption of UTAS as payment platform for salaries of lecturers as against the IPPIS platform, regulating the proliferation of state owned and private universities by amending the National Universities Commission (NUC) Act, release of findings of the various visitation panels to universities, payment of arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) and it’s mainstreaming into monthly salaries from 2021 and release of funds for revitalization of public universities.

He further stated that in May 2021,the Federal government and ASUU 2009 Agreement Renegotiation Team  constituted by the federal government concluded and submitted it’s draft report to the federal government, but for more than eight months,the government has neither signed nor implemented the action.Even the NEEDS Assessment report which recommended an annual injection of 220 billion naira into public universities for a period of five years from 2013 as an intervention fund to turn around public universities was only done once and yet the federal government will rather engage in media campaign aimed at always portraying ASUU in bad light.

“We do not enjoy Industrial actions but would rather resort to it as the last option. In the wake of FGs continued disregard to calls from well meaning Nigerians including our elder statesmen, religious and traditional leaders, ASUU will be left with no other option but to embark on a comprehensive, indefinite and total strike action”, he said.

“We are tired of Federal Government’s deceit and fruitless negotiation meetings with it’s agents/agencies including the Chief of Staff to the President, the Minister of Education, Minister of Labor, Employment and Productivity, the Accountant General of the Federation and the Executive Secretary of NUC among others. All we are saying is let the FG  implement all the agreements with ASUU.

The union further stated that ASUU has been the life support to the Nigerian University system and will not relent until the standard of education is uplifted in this country.

The association urged the general public to prevail on the FG to implement it’s agreement so as to avoid this pending strike.”In the upcoming NEC(National Executive Council) meeting which is slated to hold on the 12th and 13th of February,we might take decision to continue our industrial action which will be comprehensive and indefinite because we can’t continue to write MoAs and MoUs anymore”, the chairman said.