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Thursday, 17 August 2017

ASUU strike: We failed to fulfil agreement, FG admits

ASUU strike: We failed to fulfil agreement, FG admits

Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Wednesday admitted that the Federal Government failed to meet its part of the agreement reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities last year, which led to the ongoing industrial action called by the union.

He, however, said the government was not happy that ASUU embarked on the strike without following due process by giving an adequate notice.

Adamu spoke with State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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The minister said government had realised that it made some promises to the union which it had yet to fulfil.
He said he would be meeting with leaders of the union later on Wednesday or on Thursday.

He expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached at the meeting and the strike would be called off.

The minister said, “It is very sad that I am here and ASUU is on strike. Late last year, we had a meeting because ASUU gave one week notice of strike and we were able to work out an agreement.

I must confess that the government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain. Though we are unhappy that ASUU went on this strike without following due process by giving us notice, we realised that we promised something and we didn’t fulfil it.

“I hope I will be meeting them later today (Wednesday) or tomorrow (Thursday) and I am sure we will be able to reach an agreement so that the strike will be called off as soon as possible.

“I am sure you are aware of the issues. There is the issue of re-negotiation and we set up a re-negotiation team; negotiation is ongoing.

“There is the issue of Earned Allowances and I think because of some communication gaps, what we promised could not be done; but I am assuring ASUU and the nation that this is going to be done.

“There is the issue of registration for Nigerian Universities Pension Commission. I think there are a few issues that need to be sorted out with the Nigerian Pension Commission. There will be no problem.

“On the issue of their staff school, the court has given them verdict to go ahead with it. They have requested that they should be allowed to stay off TSA and I think the government will not do this.

I hope later on when I meet them today, there will be a total agreement.”

The minister said he still stood by a position he took before being appointed a minister in which he described ASUU’s strike as a necessary tool to pressure the government to do the right thing.

He had said if ASUU had not forced former President Goodluck Jonathan, he would not have created the Tertiary Education TrustFund “without which the university system would have collapsed.”

The minister said, “That is still my view. I believe ASUU is composed of patriotic and very responsible people.

“If I can look at what their struggle is, they forced the then government to create TETFund and today, without TETFund, the university system would have collapsed.

“I am not supporting ASUU but I am supporting what is good. If it is something bad, I will condemn it.”

Why public officials send children abroad –Senate panel chair

The Senate on Wednesday faulted ASUU for not consulting the legislature before embarking on an indefinite nationwide strike.

It urged the union to suspend the strike and continue negotiations with the Federal Government.

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The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Senator Jibrin Barau, who addressed journalists in Abuja , also dismissed the call by Nigerians that children of public officials should be restricted to the country’s public schools.

The lawmaker said Nigeria needed to have socio-cultural exchanges with other countries.

According to Barau, any law that would force public officers to send their children to schools in the country was not good for Nigeria.

He noted that there were students from Cameroon and Niger Republic who also studied in Nigeria.

He said, “Making a law to bar people from taking their children outside to study is something that will not be good for our country. We know that it is always good to mingle with people from other parts of the world when it comes to the issue of education.

“You cannot be an island to yourself; interaction is very necessary. We also allow people from other parts of the world to learn from here. You are aware that students from Cameroon, Niger and other parts of the world come here. We have exchange students who come from European nations to this country. You must have that interaction.”

Barau said Nigeria should develop universities and educational institutions to the level that those who sent their children abroad would patronise institutions in the country.

He said ASUU failed to report back to the Senate after the negotiation it spearheaded between the union and the Federal Government failed.

While admitting that ASUU once wrote to the Senate about its frustrations with the negotiation, he said the union wrote to the legislature after it had resolved to go on strike.

He added, “We captured some aspect of their grievances in the (supplementary) budget we passed immediately after the negotiation was concluded. They raised the issues that had to do with their allowances. The allowances were captured in the supplementary budget that we passed as of that time.

Reps seek dialogue

The House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the Federal Government not to ignore the striking lecturers, but engaged them in a dialogue.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, told The PUNCH that allowing the strike to continue would cause a serious “setback” for tertiary education.

Namdas said, “We call on the government to meet with ASUU and discuss the issues.

“The House is interested in an amicable and urgent resolution of the dispute.

“We are on recess, when we resume, we will also be part of the efforts to resolve the problem.”

Unions seek speedy resolution

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has cautioned against prolonging the ASUU strike.

TUC, in statement on Wednesday in Lagos, said the strike could lead to more youths going into crime, adding, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

The statement by the TUC President, Bobboi Kaigama; and the General Secretary, Musa Lawal Ozigi, said a prolonged strike was not healthy for the country.

It said ASUU issues should be resolved, adding that a lot of unpleasant things were already happening in many parts of the country.

“Last week, worshippers were killed in a church in Anambra; insecurity in the North has not abated. In the West, it has been a harvest of kidnappings and ritual killings.

“The news is all over on the social media about Nigerian migrants dying on the high seas almost on a daily basis. And now ASUU is on strike again,’’ it said.

The group appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to honour the agreements signed with ASUU.

Also the President, the Social Studies Association of Nigeria, Prof. Folorunso Ogundare; his deputy, Prof. Alice Jekayinfa, and a member of the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Issa Aremu, urged the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve issues that led to the strike by the lecturers.

They spoke at SOSAN’s international conference in Ilorin, Kwara State.

Ogundare said dialogue was the best strategy to resolve the strike.

He said, “For every conflict resolution, the two parties must hold dialogue. It is not by staying apart that issues can be resolved. I am asking that ASUU and the Federal Government should come to the roundtable.”

Jekayinfa urged the government to address ASUU’s demands, saying ASUU was fighting a just cause.

Aremu, who urged the government to respect collective agreement, stated that it was a bad precedent for a government that preaches rule of law and change not to respect collective agreement it freely entered into.

Aremu said, “We are fully in support of ASUU. We can discuss about the details of the demand of ASUU, but the principle is clear that the Federal Government should learn to respect the sanctity of an agreement.”

Don’t mortgage youths’ future, says CAN

The Christian Association of Nigeria has warned the Federal Government and ASUU not to use the strike to mortgage the future of Nigerian youths.

CAN President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, stated this on Wednesday during a working visit to the Kogi State Chairman of the association, Dr John Ibenu.

Ayokunle expressed regret that the education sector of the country was being thrown into another round of crises.

He said allowing the lecturers to embark on the strike amounted to mortgaging the future of Nigerian students.

He said there was the need for the union and the Federal Government to hold dialogue and put a final stop to incessant strikes in the country.

The CAN president said, “Let there be a parley between ASUU and the government. We are playing with the future of the younger generation; so let us show them love, don’t let us allow our children to grow up hating us and hating the nation.

“Strike today strike tomorrow, I beg both parties to exercise patience and understanding.”

Benue varsity joins strike

The Benue State University chapter of ASUU on Wednesday joined the strike called by the national body.

The Chairman of the chapter, Prof. David Ikoni, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that the union after its meeting on the campus decided to join the strike with immediate effect.

Ikoni said, “We have just finished our congress and it was resolved that we must join the strike with immediate effect. Those saying that we were paid N5m not to go on strike are liars.”

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COEASU issues notice of strike

The Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union has issued a 48-hour notice of strike to the Federal Government.

COEASU President, Nuhu Origima, in a statement on Wednesday called for the intervention of the Minister of Education to halt “the planned imposition of provosts on Federal College of Education, Okene, Kogi State; and Federal Colleges of Education, Technical, in Gombe and Umunze, Anambra State.”

The union requested the minister to caution the National Commission for Colleges of Education and the various governing councils of the colleges to stop the proposed interview of provosts slated for Monday, August 21, 2017.

It also asked for the reconstitution of the Governing Council of FCE, Okene, noting that fresh interview for the position of provost and college librarian should be conducted.

The teachers reminded the government that they are still waiting for action on the alleged illegal extension of the tenure of the provost of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, Owerri, Imo State, after she clocked the mandatory retirement age of 65 years on August 2, 2017.

“Should the Minister not see the need to address these concerns within the next 48 hours, from August 16, 2017, the Federal Government should be ready for a serious industrial dispute,” the union said.

 Strike not influenced by politics –ASUU

ASUU on Wednesday said its decision to embark on strike was not influenced by any political reason.

The Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Dr Deji Omole, said there was nothing political in asking for full implementation of a nine-year old agreement and four-year old Memorandum of Understanding it had with the Federal Government.

While reacting to the comments made by a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson Agbonayinma, ASUU said the lawmaker had displayed shallow knowledge about the situation of education in the country.

The UI ASUU chairman said, “Agbonayinma should guide his utterances and limit his talks to his limited understanding of education. Nigerian leaders should demonstrate the love they have for Nigeria by withdrawing their children in private universities both in Nigeria and abroad and stop health tourism by using the health facilities they provide for Nigerians.

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“As members of intellectual community, we are surprised that the Chairman of the Federal Government negotiation team was losing sight of realities that there is a difference between implementation of agreement already signed and renegotiation of the agreement.”

Omole added that the union would not allow the FG to mortgage Nigeria’s public education, saying that the political class had been selfish and self-serving.

Punch

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1 comment:

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