Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has stepped up his calls for the Federal Government to act to satisfy the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), who are on strike and put an end to the industrial action that began on February 14 by increasing his pressure.
He stated this on Thursday, less than 72 hours after he called the Federal Government to submit a supplementary budget to appropriate N200 billion to revamp federal universities across the country.
Falana urged the federal government to sign the renegotiated agreement with the union.
He said, “Based on our consultation with the leadership of ASUU, we have confirmed that the entire members of ASUU are fully prepared to call off the strike as soon as the FG/ASUU Renegotiated the Federal Government executes Agreement,” said Falana, who is also the interim Chair of Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB).
“In the circumstance, we are compelled to call on President Buhari to end the industrial action by directing the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, to execute the Renegotiated Agreement. The Agreement should be executed as soon as possible in the public interest.”
Falana described the process of renegotiating the contract and criticised the Minister of Labour and Employment for the lack of progress on it.
He said, “It is public knowledge that the Federal Government inaugurated the Renegotiation Committee headed by Professor Munzali Jubrin in December 2020.
“The Committee was saddled with the sole responsibility of addressing the demand of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) pertaining to revamping all federal universities in the country.
“After extensive consultations with all the relevant stakeholders, the Committee completed the national (assignment and) submitted a comprehensive report to the Federal Government in May 2021.
“Regrettably, the Agreement was not signed by the Federal Government 9 months after the report’s submission. Hence, ASUU embarked on the current industrial action.”
Falana lamented that the strike has lasted for almost five months due to “the dissatisfaction of the Federal Government with certain aspects of the report of the Jibrin Renegotiate Committee”.
“Instead of ironing out the grey areas in the agreement, the Federal Government turned round to set up another Renegotiated Committee under the leadership of Professor Nimi Briggs in March 2022.
“The Committee has also submitted its report to the Federal Government. Even though the Federal government and the ASUU have reached an understanding to call off the ongoing strike based on the execution of the report of the Briggs Committee, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, has announced the purported rejection of the report.”
Falana claims that the material at hand demonstrates that the Federal Government has not permitted the Minister to reject the agreement and expose ASUU to a smear campaign.
“The implication of rejecting the Briggs Renegotiated Committee reports that the ASUU strike will continue indefinitely,” he said.
He pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari had recently voiced his worry about the strike and urged ASUU to end it, declaring that “enough is enough.”
He believed that for the union to heed the appeal, the agreement would need to be carried out.