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ASUU to blame for prolonged strike, says Chris Ngige

Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige has blasted the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for failing to call off its strike.

He accused the union of turning down Federal Government’s offers by refusing to teach, conduct researches or engage in other academic duties for which they are paid.

The minister was reacting to a statement credited to the University of Jos (UNIJOS) chapter of the union, led by Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, that Ngige was responsible for ASUU’s prolonged strike.

In a statement by his office in Abuja, Ngige said: “It is rather ASUU, which has bluntly refused to reciprocate the Federal Government’s offers by refusing to either teach, conduct researches or engage in other academic values for which they are paid, that should be held responsible.

“Strangely, ASUU claims ‘patriotism’ as basis for this prolonged industrial action, forcing every patriot to raise concern over this weird definition of patriotism by ASUU officials.

“Living by its words, the Federal Government has fulfilled all the demands over which ASUU went on strike on March 9, 2020.

“The visitation panels to the universities have been approved by the President and will swing into action once the universities re-open. The office of the Attorney General of the Federation, on the other hand, is also rounding off the gazetting of the panels while the National Universities Commission (NUC) has received the approved list which will be published later next week.

“Also, the revival of the Renegotiation Committee for the 2009 ASSU/Federal Government Agreement demanded by ASUU has been set up by the Ministry of Education with Prof. Munzali as Chairman, replacing the ex-chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN.) The new committee is currently meeting.

Similarly, government has acceded to a hybrid payment platform, which is not 100 per cent IPPIS, for the payment of salaries and Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances, pending the result and conclusion of the integrity and usability test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) by the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

“Besides, government has also processed for payment, the sum of N70 billion, comprising N40 billion for Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances and N30 billion for revitalisation of the universities. The Accountant General of the Federation, at present, awaits the accounts details from the Federal Ministry of Education and the NUC for the remittance.

Of note is that even while ASUU was on strike during the COVID-19 lockdown, government, on the insistence of the Minister of Labour and Employment, and out of compassion, paid them February, March, April, May and June salaries to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 on them and their families and further made every entreaty to them to come on board virtual negotiations with a view for an early call-off of strike, to enable students benefit from virtual/online classes, fashionable at the time, and even now, all over the universal academic community, but ASUU bluntly refused…”

Also, the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnic (SSANIP) has declared a 14-day warning strike to begin on January 4, 2021.

The union said it took the decision at the end of its 62nd regular meeting of the General Executive Council on Thursday in Abuja.

SSANIP National President Adebanjo Ogunsipe, who addressed reporters at the end of the meeting, said: “The union wishes to make it categorically clear to the Federal and state governments that continued failure to take action on all of the issues above will leave us with no option than to take drastic action to see to the implementation of these demands.”

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