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Monday, July 1, 2013

ASUU begins Nationwide Strike today over allowances

Nigerian University lecturers, under the
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU),
on Monday began a nationwide indefinite
strike.
The ASUU National President, Isa Fagge, told
journalists of the development at a news
conference via telephone at the University of
Lagos.
He said that the decision to have the strike
was reached at the National Executive
Committee (NEC) meeting of ASUU held at the
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, on
Monday.
Mr. Fagge told journalists that the strike,
which takes immediate effect, will be
comprehensive, total and indefinite''. He said
that the action was as a result of the inability
of the Federal Government to implement
some of the issues contained in a 2009
agreement it had with ASUU.
The unionist said that the government had
also reneged on the Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) it entered into with the
union in December 2011.
"Before now, there has been this issue of the
implementation of the key issues contained in
the 2009 agreement we entered into with the
Federal Government.
"We have had several meetings and
deliberations to let government understand
why these issues must be resolved but it is
like the more we meet and deliberate, the
messier the issue gets.
"One of the issues that needed to be
addressed was basically that of the Academic
earned allowance. This earned allowance,
and other issues, had dragged on until
government then agreed to write an MOU
with the union.
"But as we speak, there has been nothing to
show that government was committed to an
MOU it also willingly wrote to better the
university sector.
"It is in this regard that we are embarking on
an indefinite strike," he said.
Mr. Fagge said that having waited patiently
for the government to swing into action to no
avail, the NEC of the union decided to meet,
deliberate and come up with the action.
Karo Oghenekaro, the Chairman of the
University of Lagos chapter of the union, told
journalists that government's penchant for
reneging on agreements was not acceptable.
He said that government entered into the
MOU with ASUU after the union suspended its
strike two and a half years ago.
Mr. Oghenekaro explained that the
government had made essential laws on
some of the burning issues such as the 70
years retirement age of lecturers as well as
the pension commission.
According to him, government, however, is
not forthcoming with other pressing demands
such as the earned allowance.
He noted that the academic earned
allowance was expected to take care of
excess work load carried out by the lecturers
such as examination officers, deans and
supervision of post graduate, masters and
other programmes.
"I want to say that not all lecturers are
entitled to this allowance, but as we speak,
not a single lecturer under the
aforementioned categories has received any
such allowance.
"What we are demanding as the earned
allowance is not more than N12, 500 per
person, yet government is saying it cannot
afford such.
"Government was actually thinking of the cost
implication of everything but after much
deliberation, government agreed to sign the
MoU and said it had set aside N100 billion to
take care of all the burning issues.
"However, government came back to us and
pleaded for a reduction and we decided to
step the cost down to 80 per cent. That not
enough, it also appealed for another
reduction to 50 per cent.
"This 50 per cent, government said, will be a
one off payment; that it was from that 50 per
cent that we shall take care of everything,
including the earned allowance.
"This did not go down well with us and so we
decided to meet and take the decision we
have just taken," he said.
According to him, the Nigerian tertiary
education sector is where it is because of
inadequate funding. He said that one of the
reasons why there were no foreign scholars in
the system was because of the poor wages.
"When we agitate about earned allowance,
we are also using it to as a means of
attracting foreign scholars so it is not all about
our personal interest.
"We are also using it to address the issue of
brain drain in the system. As it were, our best
brains are all drifting into industries and other
sectors that will pay them better, rather than
ploughing back into the academic sector.

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