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OBSERVATION: FG’s Disdain Of ASUU Is Unacceptable

  BY ADEMOLA YAYA ON 14th February, 2022, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had embarked on a warning strike to pressure the Federal Government (FG) to release revitalization funds for universities, payment of Earned Academic Allowances, release of white paper of the presidential visitation panels and implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution…”
Yusuf
November 12, 2022 7:49 am

 

BY ADEMOLA YAYA

ON 14th February, 2022, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had embarked on a warning strike to pressure the Federal Government (FG) to release revitalization funds for universities, payment of Earned Academic Allowances, release of white paper of the presidential visitation panels and implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for university workers as against Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) conceptualised in 2006 by FG to improve the efficiency in the storage of personnel records and administration of monthly payroll because of peculiarity  of academia. In its characteristics manner, FG refused to blink an eye throughout the duration of the warning strike which led to its several extensions and eventual full-blown in August – indefinite strike. When several meetings initiated by FG to negotiate with ASUU ended in a deadlock, it headed to National Industrial Court (NIC) to forc e ASUU back to classes. It worked as NIC ordered ASUU to suspend the strike which was backed by Court of Appeal when ASUU approached it.

On 14th October, ASUU called off the strike and ordered its members back to class based on Appeal Court verdict, interventions of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and several pleas of President Muhammadu Buhari. However, to break ASUU backbone and render it toothless, the FG had on 4th October registered two other different academic staff unions – Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

Throughout the eight-month-old strike, FG had applied “no work, no pay” rule on ASUU. The rule means that if the workers refuse to work, they would not be paid for work not done. This rule was drawn from Trade Dispute Act Vol. 15, CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 targeted at discouraging workers’ strike. Having called off the strike, the FG only credited ASUU members half salaries of the month of October as a demonstration of its disdain to the union, hiding under pro-rata pay as justification.

Based on this, ASUU had called an emergency meeting to review FG affront and insult which could spark off another round of strike. How does FG expect an aggrieved lecturer commitment and dedication to give his/her best to impacting knowledge? It is clear that our unenviable low quality education will become lower and consequently to poor learning, which will ultimately lead to unskillful workforce that will be unemployable with attendant negative consequences on economy and crime rate. A discerning mind would not be surprised at FG disdain for ASUU. After all, the ruling elite children study abroad with very few of them at home studying at selected private varsities. They are, therefore, not bothered whether ASUU members are happy with their job or not; whether they go on incessant strike or not. They don’t care whether or not the children of the poor have access to university education. Before now, I had thought that the ruling elite would have taken care of ASUU “irritation and nuisance deviance” by initiating Private Sector Participation (PSP) for eventual sales and transfer of our varsities to private sector instead of new structures being built by private sector. After all, that was how most of our collective heritage were sold at give away prices to the ruling elite and their cronies during Obasanjo/Atiku PDP regime between 1999 and 2007.

What FG had done is nothing but wage theft. Academia is peculiar; it’s not like other civil service environment as work left undone could be recovered over a period of time. Apart from failure to pay outstanding eight months salaries owed during the period of strike, FG went ahead to pay half of October salaries to ASUU members! How can FG justify regular and full payment of NNPC and our four refineries staff who refine no single oil? What difference would full payment of ASUU salary make in its stealing of our collective money in its care? Has 2022 budget not taken care of ASUU full salaries including eight months it has refused to pay? FG action in this respect is shameful and petty.

According to Wikipedia, “Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of employees aimed at agreements to regulate working salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers’ compensation and rights for workers.” Simply put, “it is the process in which working people through their unions, negotiate contracts with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family, and more.” In collective bargaining, there must be mutual respect on both parties. The management must respect the unions and the unions must recognize the importance of management towards arriving at a solution for peace to reign.

ASUU had gone on eight-month-old strike as a result of refusal of FG non-adherence and implementation of previous agreements between FGN/ASUU. Successive governments had always reneged and arm twisted ASUU on previous negotiations and agreements leading to incessant strikes in the ivory towers.  

The poor people and their children who desire affordable but quality education must brace up to the challenge. The present ruling elite and those who aspire to replace them do not have their interest at heart. To change their pathetic condition for better, they must enmasse form or join a political party, use their sweat and blood to determine the leadership and candidates that will contest elections, use their numerical strength to make their candidates win and watch them as they implement policies that will turn around things for their better working and living condition, affordable quality education, healthcare, employment and happiness. It may be tumultuous but this is the only path to freedom and happiness for the poor people from the shackle of the thieving ruling elite.

 

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