The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has again expressed displeasure over what it described as continued lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Government towards honouring the agreements made with the union, saying it should not wait until the union embarks on nationwide strike before doing the needful.
The Lagos Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, who lectures at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka, Dr Adelaja Odukoya, gave this position at a news conference in Lagos, on Tuesday.
The leadership of ASUU in five universities that made up the zone, namely, UNILAG, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun, Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State were in attendance.
Speaking further, Odukoya said the Federal Government had already pushed the union to the wall and ready to bite anytime from now.
According to him, ASUU knows that the only language the Federal Government understands before doing what is expected of it not only for ASUU but also for other unions is industrial action.
He said it was not as if ASUU or any other labour unions in the country or elsewhere across the globe like to go on strike particularly because of attendant consequences of such action, but because such actions have proven to be only potent language that Nigerian government at all levels understand.
“But it is very unfortunate that government should be waiting for industrial action before addressing issues of public importance,” he lamented.
Odukoya explained that ASUU consistent agitations were for the survival and sustenance of public university education and autonomy in the country and not for ASUU members’ interests as the federal government always portraits it before the public.
According to him, without ASUU constant engagement with government towards a better public university education in the country, the system would have been collapsed for a long time.
He said it was disheartening that the Federal Government rather than being forthright and sincere in all her dealing with ASUU on the seven issues in contention, is feeding the public with falsehood.
He said the contentious issues between them overtime in the last 12 years remain the same with the government playing back and front game with ASUU, except that it honoured only two out of about seven-point demands that formed the last Memorandum of Action with the government and upon which the last strike that last nine months was suspended.
He listed the remaining five issues to include “government’s reluctance to fulfil the 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement bothering on the provision of funds for the revitalisation of dilapidating infrastructure (hostel accommodation, befitting lecture theatres, state-of-the-art laboratories, good working environment for lecturers, and so forth), payment of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), arresting the trend of proliferation of state-owned universities while neglecting the funding of the existing ones and the renegotiation of 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement
He pointed out that the issue of forceful enrollment of ASUU members into the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) at the expense of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) remained a deliberate attempt of the government to divert the attention of the public from its insincerity, lack of interest and disregard for the education of Nigerian university students.
He said it was only in Nigeria in Africa that university lecturers with master degree holders as the least among them could earn poverty-wage while the politicians earn fat salaries.
He however, urged all well-meaning Nigerians across strata, to without delay prevail on the Federal Government to do the needful by honouring the remaining terms of their last agreement.
“Otherwise, our union would be left with no option than to resuscitate our struggle to get the government to live up with its responsibilities and we shouldn’t be blamed for that,” he concluded.