ASUU counters JAMB, Pantami as it fires four-week warning strike – Nexus News

Students and parents are in for tough times as members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embark on a four-week warning strike.

The union, yesterday, commenced a one-month strike to protest non-implementation of a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) as agreed with the Federal Government.

Rising from its two-day National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), the union stated that though the decision to interrupt the academic calendar, at this time, is painful, it has no other alternative because the government has ceased to fully meet its demands.

ASUU national president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, who was backed by past and current officials of the union, also blamed the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and its registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, for intervening in admissions, stating that only the Senate of universities are legally empowered to do so.

On the strike, Osodeke noted that given the Federal Government’s failure to fully implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) signed with the union, since December 23, 2020, it has no choice than to embark on strike.

Dr. Isa Pantami

He noted: “Government has failed to fully implement the MoA signed with ASUU; the draft report of the renegotiated 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement has been submitted for finalization for more than nine months; the forced payment of ASUU members’ salaries and emoluments with the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and non-adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) have continued to shortchange members.

“Subsequently, NEC resolved to embark on a four-week roll-over total and comprehensive strike effective yesterday (Monday).”

He said: “It was a painful decision for NEC to arrive at. Contrary to the views canvassed in some quarters, ASUU loathes disrupting academic activities on our campuses. We love our students and respect their parents and guardians. We are also not insensitive to the genuine concerns about stable academic calendars in public universities expressed by patriotic Nigerians. But the blame should be squarely put at the doorsteps of those who have ignored our yearnings for a development-oriented education in Nigeria.”

Osodeke stated that the patience of the union has been tasked beyond tolerable limits. He also said that the greatest assets of any nation is its human capital, cautioning that any nation that pays lip service to education, as is being done in Nigeria, would only grow in age and not experience genuine development.

While displaying his concern over the ‘meddlesomeness’ of JAMB in admission processes and regulation of academic activities, ASUU reiterated that the action opposes the principle of university autonomy.

Osodeke explained that the examination body was established to conduct matriculation examinations for admissions into tertiary institutions and to also pass out information on all matters relating to such, while it is the prerogative of each university senate to superintend all academic matters in the institutions.

“These include setting the admission requirements and approval of university undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. JAMB has no powers to decide qualification for admission and does not have powers to give admission or delist programmes of universities. At best, JAMB is an examination body and clearing house for admission. Giving admission to candidates is the duty of the senate, while accreditation of programmes is the prerogative of the National Universities Commission.”

The ASUU chief also blamed the examination body on fees being charged candidates for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to ‘impress’ the Federal Government, emphasizing that JAMB is not a revenue generation agency.

ASUU urged the body and registrar to cease from overstepping its original mandate and allow universities to decide admission policies and processes.

ASUU also opposed the appointment of Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, as a professor of cyber security.

Osodeke disclosed that, besides the fact that the minister is not qualified, the appointment went against established procedure for appointment of professors in the university system.

MEANWHILE, as ASUU begins its four-week strike, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, former vice chancellor, Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), has solicited for intervention of the committee of former vice chancellors towards finding a solution to the recurrent face-of between government and lecturers.

Soremekun, in an interview with Newsmen, against the backdrop of the strike, stated that it is imperative for former vice chancellors to interfere.

He said two issues are being considered: “The first one has to do with IPPIS. The government might mean well on this, but IPPIS has done a lot of damage to the autonomous capacity of university managements. This is why the Federal Government should adopt ASUU’s alternative – UTAS.

“The equally important issue is the reward system. Ours is a dollarized economy. And as such, it is scandalous that a professor currently earns something in the region of $800. In naira terms, this comes to something in the region of N420,000.”

Soremekun, who is presently chairman of the Editorial Board of Business day, noted that the real problem is that since 2009, salaries of university lecturers have not been reviewed, contrary to agreements signed between the union and government.

“Indeed, the stipulation is that salaries should be reviewed every three years. On this note, ASUU itself appeared to have slept on its rights. But this is not the time to blame the victim. Rather, the current impasse should be resolved quickly with a view to ensuring that the academic calendar is not jeopardized,” he said.

Read Also: ASUU keeps students, parents and govt in suspense 

The Professor of International Relations noted that it is instructive to note that other countries, such as Ghana, Kenya and the United Kingdom, are also tackling their own university teachers on issues relating to welfare, while authorities in those countries try to resolve the problems.

ALSO, a parent of three undergraduate students in three Nigerian universities has blamed ASUU for being insensitive.

Speaking with Newsmen on the strike, Mrs. Caroline Emeka said commencing a four-week strike is uncalled for and inhuman. She pleaded to the lecturers to consider the plight of students.

“My question is: why do they always have problems with the government? Strike has been turned into a trade union affair, where they bargain. This is very unfair,” she said.

Also, a presidential aspirant, Adewole Adebayo, implored the Federal Government to address its face-off with the lecturers.

Adebayo noted that a similar strike cost him three extra years in his educational quest. He said the government and all stakeholders must understand that industrial harmony affects students and their families.

“We need to know that education is the cornerstone of civilization, and our future depends on it. We need to work hard to see that there is industrial harmony and educational quality for the children,” he said.

He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the minister of education and labor to take quick actions, adding: “We need to think hard that the future of these young people is at stake.”

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *