ASUU Issues Fresh Ultimatum Over Varsity Governing Councils

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Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to embark on another industrial action if the federal government fails to honour and implement the 2009 agreement.

The union also rejected all the “ongoing illegalities and flagrant violation of the autonomy of public universities as a result of the non-reinstatement/reconstitution of their governing councils.
It gave the government a two-week ultimatum to address the issue and others to prevent the looming industrial action.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, said Nigerians should hold the federal and state governments responsible if the matter of the governing councils is allowed to snowball into an avoidable industrial crisis.
The briefing followed its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, between Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12, 2024.

At the meeting, the union undertook a dispassionate and comprehensive review of the status of its engagements with the federal and state governments on how to reposition Nigeria’s public universities for global reckoning and competitiveness.

The meeting also took a critical look at the worsening living and working conditions in universities and the nation at large.

Osodeke said the meeting received worrisome reports on the failed promises of the federal and state governments towards addressing the lingering issues that forced the union to embark on the nationwide strike action of February-October 2022.

“As our union has consistently stated, salary awards are no substitutes for a negotiated agreement. Each negotiated agreement between the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and ASUU is a comprehensive package that captures not just the salary component but also a gamut of requirements for benchmarking a competitive university system designed for addressing the developmental challenges of Nigeria.

“ASUU’s demand for negotiated salary and other conditions of service is anchored on the International Labour Organisation (ILO’s) Convention No. 98 which underscores the principle of collective bargaining.

“The last FGN/ASUU Agreement was in 2009. Consequent upon the union’s advocacy spanning almost one decade, our union went into the renegotiation with the FGN as in 2017,” he said.

On the issue of governing councils, the NEC observed with dismay the continued erosion of autonomy of public universities, contrary to the provisions of the Universities Miscellaneous Act (1993, 2012).

It said, “The illegal dissolution of governing councils by the Tinubu administration and many state governments has paved the way for all manner of illegalities in the Nigerian University System.

“University administrations now place advertisements for the appointment of vice chancellors without authorisation from the appropriate quarters – the governing councils. Outgoing vice chancellors, working in cahoots with the federal and state ministries of education, are illegally running the universities on a daily basis.

“They routinely usurp the powers of the governing councils to recruit and discipline staff as well as manage university finances in manners bereft of transparency and accountability,” the ASUU boss said

The union further lamented the unending grip of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, saying that the platform is a fraudulent one that inflicted unprecedented hardship on Nigerian academics and corruptly distorted university operations with respect to payroll management.

ASUU also lamented the socioeconomic crises in which Nigeria is currently engulfed, no thanks to the massive injection of neo-liberal policies of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The NEC therefore, condemned in strong terms the seeming refusal of the federal and state governments to decisively address all outstanding issues with the union;

“NEC shall reconvene after two weeks from the date of the NEC meeting to review the situation and take decisive action to address the issues,” it added.

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