By: Ade Adeleke
Following its ongoing two-week warning strike, leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), yesterday dismissed insinuation that it is on the strike only because of the introduction of IPPIS policy at federal universities, declaring that government should be blamed for allowing disruption in academic calendar.
The Union insisted that some of the agreements it reached with the government since 2012 had not been implemented to make university campuses conducive for learning and teaching, before the federal government stopped ASUU members’ salaries.
Speaking with newsmen in Akure, the Ondo state capital, the coordinator of ASUU for Akure Zone which comprises OAU, EKSU, FUOYE and FUTA braches, Comrade Olu Olufayo called on well-meaning Nigerians and parents to join the Union to prevail on government to drop IPPIS policy for universities.
Also speaking, other Branch Chairmen of ASUU, Comrades Adeola Egbedokun of OAU; Akinyemi Omonijo of FUOYE; Yinka Awopetu of FUTA and Kayode Arogundade of EKSU, vowed that the union would not suspend the strike until federal government yield to their demand.
Comrade Olufayo advised federal government to have a rethink over forceful introduction of controversial IPPIS policy and test the alternative platform known as University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), being developed by ASUU.
The ASUU leadership which also said attitude of the federal government over lack of respect for agreements was targeting at killing the nation’s universities, expressed concern over spate of insecurity and dwindling economic situation in the country.
On the national insecurity, the leaders said, “ASUU notes with dismay that the level of insecurity in the country was becoming alarming and unbearable.
“ASUU is of the opinion that militancy, banditry, herdsmen/farmers clashes and insurgency are becoming rife and overwhelming on the security apparatus of the nation.
“It therefore calls for an urgent overhauling and re-jigging of the security architecture of the country.
On economic retrogression, the Union said, “ASUU notes with disappointment that the present state of the nation’s economy was unimaginable.
“It therefore expresses its fears that the nation’s economy had been hijacked by the neo-liberalists. ASUU is of the view that, this menace had snowballed into infrastructural decay, currency devaluation, hyperinflation and impoverishment of the masses.
“ASUU warned that if things continued in this direction, the government would be bequeathing backwardness, poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disempowerment to the citizens of Nigeria.
“ASUU therefore suggests that urgent economic interventions and measures should be put in place or reworked, as the case may be, to tackle corruption, which is sadly, presently on a large scale.”
On Collective Bargaining, ASUU called for an immediate review of the promises made by government to address deplorable infrastructures and bad state of education in Nigeria.
According to ASUU, “as things stand now, students are made to learn under inhumane conditions. This is in spite of all the efforts of ASUU to bring to the fore, all the inherent physical problems being experienced by the students.
“The situation has been made worse by apparent government meddlesomeness in the day to day administration of the Universities. The attempt to erode universities’ autonomy make them incapable of performing optimally in teaching, research and rendering of services.
“This is evident in the forceful introduction on our Universities the obnoxious Integrated Personnel and payroll Information System (IPPIS). To this extent, government has rejected the cost-free and effective alternative platform, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), being developed by ASUU.
“Meanwhile, ASUU will not its members to be railroaded into enrolling in this scam called IPPIS because of its apparent deficiencies. IPPIS also runs counter of the Universities Miscellaneous Provision Act (as amended). It is nothing but fraud, which allows the enrollment of ghost workers.
“Sexual Harassment: ASUU condemns, in totality, all forms of sexual harassment, no matter its origin. However, the Union strongly oppose to any form of deliberate effort or attempt by the National Assembly to single out lecturers for sexual harassment legislation, as if such does not happen in other sections of the society.
“According to ASUU, such an attempt violates the rule of jurisprudence which says that laws should not be made against specific or targeted individuals or a group.
“ASUU notes with dismay that in spite of all the agreements reached at the meeting held with President Buhari on 9th January, 2020, which covered six strategic areas of the Universities’ needs, only one area, the re-negotiation of the 2009 FGN-ASUU’S Agreement had witnessed some actions.
ASUU, maintained that till date, the third party deductions of union’s check-off dues, cooperative contributions of members, had not been released, adding that the matter is made worse by deliberate refusal of the Federal Government to pay members’ February 2020 salaries till date.
“Therefore, our Union concluded that Nigeria is presently caught in the midst of suffocating socio-economic challenges which must urgently be addressed.
“ASUU is therefore calling for the populace to take power back to the real owners of the resources that is, the working people of Nigeria.
“Having comprehensively reviewed the outstanding issues in the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the 2017 Memorandum of Action (MOA), as well as the pussy-footing attitude of Government on the obnoxious and fraudulent IPPIS programme, which have not been addressed.
The Akure Zone of ASUU aligned itself with the decision of ASUU NEC to prosecute the 2 weeks warning strike to force government to live up to its responsibilities.