The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Lagos chapter, Dele Ashiru, has said ASUU and lecturers in public universities are only responding to the unacceptable treatment declared by the Federal Government with the indefinite strike.
Ashiru stated this on Wednesday morning when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme.
“Government declared war on our union, we are only responding. Six months or seven months down the line, our members are suffering the consequences of a strike caused by the government. If you deploy the weapon of hunger upon people, that is a war,” he said.
In response to ASUU’s more than six-month strike that began on February 14, 2022, the Federal Government on Tuesday called a meeting with vice-chancellors and pro chancellors for September 6, 2022, at the National Universities Commission in Abuja.
The intended conference, according to the union’s chairman in UNILAG, is “part of the government’s diversionary methods” and “another jamboree to waste taxpayer money.”
“The Vice Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors are not in dispute with the government. So, whatever that meeting will achieve is yet to be seen.
What government ought to concentrate on is negotiating with our union,” Ashiru said.
On claims that the government has met 80% of the demands of ASUU, Ashiru said, “Not one item (has been met), even the one that requires no money. For example, we desire that a government White Paper on Visitation Panel be released. Up till now, over two years, (Minister of Education), Adamu Adamu cannot release White Paper.”
Due to poor member welfare, unpaid earned allowances, and implementing of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System rather than its preferred payment alternative, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, ASUU, has been on strike.
On Wednesday, Ashiru argued that the Federal Government should suspend the IPPIS since it violates the university’s autonomy.
“Nimi Briggs’ Committee recommended an increase in salaries for our members. It is about how the government can fund public universities and suggested to the government in line with the tripartite agreement that IPPIS be (suspended), because it violates the university autonomy, and then UTAS be deployed,” he said.
On the way forward, Ashiru said, “Government has not demonstrated enough good fate to enable our union to reciprocate, and there is also the principle of reciprocity.
“What we think the government should do is to take immediate steps to resolve this crisis, not setting up committees.
Issa Aremu, a former vice-president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, and Ashiru both spoke on the program, and Aremu claimed the situation at hand is a “legacy catastrophe” and that “a new paradigm shift is needed to resolve the labour dispute in the education sector.”
“There have been shutdowns of public universities 16 times since 1999, and it amounts to 62 months, that comes to roughly about five years plus,” he said.
Aremu continued by stating that both parties should keep in mind that “industrial conflict is not industrial warfare” and that the situation should be resolved by “time-tested collective bargaining with uncompromising trade conflicts.”
Ashiru disagreed with him, claiming that the government launched a hunger strike against professors who had not received payment for around seven months since the strike began, declaring war on ASUU members nationally.