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Minister Reacts To ASUU’s Indefinite Strike

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Minister Reacts To ASUU’s Indefinite Strike

The Federal Government yesterday reacted to the indefinite and total strike declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) adding that, the union should reconsider its declaration.

The government said it had invested in the education sector, especially the universities.

Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, made a presentation to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETfund during an oversight visit to the Federal Ministry of Education.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media/Public Affairs, Kelechi Mejuobi, Opiah said all demands of ASUU had been met.

He said the Federal Government only came up with a standard principle of “no work, no pay” which he said was a universal policy.

“The government has yielded to all the demands of ASUU. The only thing is that government doesn’t support anyone who doesn’t work but wants pay,” the minister of state said.

Opiah, who stood in for Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, believes more had been spent through TETFUND on university infrastructure than ASUU requested.

He said the issues related to welfare had also been settled.

The minister of state, however, did not provide specifics of ASUU’s demands he claimed the government met.

Aside from seeking payment of the withheld salaries of its members, ASUU is demanding the provision of funds for the revitalisation of public universities; payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA)/Earned Allowances (EA) and payment of salary shortfalls.

It is also demanding an end to the proliferation of state universities, renegotiation of a 2009 agreement; adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university teachers and payment of non-remitted check-off dues.

There were varied reactions to ASUU’s decision to roll over the strike that began on February 14.

Deputy National President, National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, urged parties to soften their hard stances for a compromise.

He faulted ASUU for dictating its salary structure and payment platform to the government.

He said: “You don’t dictate to your employer. The government is looking at the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), and ASUU is insisting on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

“I don’t know where it is done anywhere in the world, you dictating to your employer.

“Sadly, our children are now roaming the streets doing nothing, prostitution and yahoo business is on the rise.

“Government should let us know if ASUU is over-demanding, based on the 80 per cent it said it has met. There should be compromises in negotiations.

“It says it cannot meet all of their demands because of the present economic reality in the country.

“The Finance Minister, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, says there would be no capital projects next year based on lack of funds. There should be a renegotiation between both parties.”

Coordinator, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Southwest Zone D, Stephen Tegbe, said students were tired of the situation.

To him, the Federal Government and ASUU had failed them again.

“Students have been at home for the past six months and nothing is happening from both parties.

“They are not ready to shift ground or reach a compromise. They are our parents, sadly they failed us again,” he lamented.

Adamu will meet with university pro-chancellors, chairmen of council as well as vice-chancellors on September 6.

The meeting was brokered by the National Universities Commission (NUC).

The NUC, in a letter by its Deputy Executive Secretary (Administration), Chris Maiyaki, noted that the meeting would help chart a way forward on the ongoing strike by the university lecturers.

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