ASUU-Unizik protests unpaid wages, proliferation of public universities

By Udodirim Oti, Awka

The Academic  Staff Union of  Universities (ASUU), Nnamdi Azikiwe University Chapter, yesterday marched in protest over unpaid wages, breached agreements with governments  and proliferation of universities in the country, among others.    During the protest, the members chanted solidarity songs with their leadership for championing their cause and interest while displaying placards within the university premises.

Some of the inscriptions in the placards read: “Stop Suffocating University Lecturers,”   “Pay Us Fairly,” “FG, Stop Deceiving Nigerian Lecturers,” “We Deserve Better Pay,” “We Teach, We Deserve Our Pay.”

Addressing the press shortly after the protest march, the Chairman of ASUU-NAU Chapter, Comrade Kingsley Ubaoji hinted that the idea to limit the protest to the premises of the institution was to avoid a situation where infiltrators would hijack it and breach law and order.

Ubaoji  observed that the Federal Government under the Bola Tinubu administration is yet to engage fully with the union to address all outstanding issues with ASUU decisively.

Ubaoji who spoke in company of his executives also listed other demands to include Renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, implementation of the Prof. Nimi Briggs Report; funding for the Revitalisation of Public Universities based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013, and the MoA of 2017 and release of the 3½ months of the withheld salaries

According to him, the Union is desirous of release of unpaid staff salaries on sabbatical, adjunct, etc., due to IPPIS, release of third-party deductions, implementation of UTAS in place of IPPIS, implementation of the Reports of the Visitation Panels, illegal dissolution of Governing Councils in Federal and State Universities and proliferation of public universities

The others, he noted, were partial payment of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) and  non-victimisation of devoted union members and other victories which were made possible by ASUU struggles and strike actions.

The Unionist revealed that the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement has been a recurrent decimal in all ASUU industrial actions since 2009, lamenting that “no  government had taken the renegotiation seriously, but during the life of the past administration, negotiation came to a conclusion with the Nimi Briggs Committee.”

“A document was produced, but the minions in the corridors of power refused to pass it on to the then President for his consideration and approval. Since then no tangible outcome has been recorded in spite of the constructive recommendations of the Committee.”

In this respect, he said the union, therefore, was demanding that all renegotiations of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement be rounded off based on the Nimi Briggs Committee resolutions.

He disclosed that the salaries of Academics in Nigeria have not been reviewed since 2009 to the point that, for over 14 years, they have been on a static salary structure despite the country’s increasing inflation rate

He maintained the stand of the Union that “based on the FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2012 and 2013 and the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2017, the revitalisation of our public universities remains a top priority if Nigerian universities and academics would remain competitive.”

The ASUU boss called on the Tinubu-led Government “to do the needful by reversing its decision on the University Governing Councils dissolution,” noting that the “union maintains that the proliferation of public universities without provisions for adequate funding and infrastructure does not augur well for our university system.”

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