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The ghost of the recently suspended strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) roamed across several campuses, yesterday, as lecturers protested the pro-rata October salary payment and non-payment of eight-month salaries.
The aggrieved lecturers called on the Federal Government to do the needful or risk another prolonged strike.
At the Federal University, Lokoja, ASUU members called for immediate sack of ministers of Education and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Adamu Adamu and Chris Ngige, respectively.
It accused both ministers of arrogance and highhandedness, saying they should stop presenting themselves as if they own Nigeria, adding, ‘Nigeria belongs to all of us’
The lecturers, who converged on the temporary site of the university in Adankolo carried placards with various inscriptions.
Addressing newsmen at the university gate, the branch Chairman of ASUU, Josiah Silas, said it was sad that in spite of calling off the eight months strike, government has continued to put the lecturers and their families in hunger.
He said government was doing it to intentionally kill tertiary education, especially at the university level, saying nowhere in the civilised world are intellectuals treated with so much scorn.
The union warned that if government refused to pay their outstanding salaries, they would be forced to embark on another strike.
At the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), ASUU directed its members to withhold examination results and not participate in any department, faculty or Senate council meetings to approve results until they were paid in full.
Speaking to newsmen in Nsukka shortly after the protest, chairman of ASUU-UNN, Christian Opata, said: “ASUU-UNN has directed its members not to release results of examinations conducted or participate in any department, faculty or Senate council meetings to approve results until government pay there salary in full.
“We will continue to teach but will not release results of any examination or allow the school Senate to sit and approve any result.
“ASUU is saying no to the government policy of no work, no pay, but if government insists on the policy, ASUU will not handle any academic activity that fall within that eight months period.
“ASUU wants government to honour its agreement with the union since 2009 and stop further attempt that will keep students away from school.”
The ASUU chairman described as unfortunate attempt by government to treat lecturers as labourers by using the so-called ‘pro-rata’ format to pay them their October salary.
“This is the first time in the history of this country when university academic staff are paid as casual workers. It is an indication that the present administration in the country has no regard for education,” he said.
Opata threatened that if government failed to do the needful, ASUU was determined to embark on what would be known in Nigeria history as mother of all strikes.
“If government thinks implementing the policy of no work no pay and withholding our salary will prevent us from embarking on strike again, it’s a big lie.
“If government failed to do the the needful, very soon ASUU will return to indefinite nation wide strike in public universities,” Opata said.
The peaceful protest started from the Faculty of Social Science to the administrative block and to major roads in UNN
•Ngige’s abuse of power should not be condoned
Leading the protest within the South core part of the school premises, Chairperson of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (ASUU-FUAM), Simon Ejembi, said the rally is meant to sensitise Nigerians and relevant stakeholders in the educational sector to prevail on the ruling class to stop bastardising and casualising the system.
In a speech entitled: “Casualisation of academics: Ignorance of the ruling class,” Ejembi said the eight-month strike was to press on the government to address certain issues which include University Transparency Accountability Solutions (UTAS) and IPPIS.
“Signing and implementation of the renegotiated Draft 2009 Agreement, Earned Academic Allowances accruing to our members, state universities and funding for the revitalisation of public universities,” he said.
He said it was regrettable that rather than approaching the issues responsibly, the ruling class chose to politicise them and also convert the whole essence of the issues to an ego fight championed by Ngige.
He said after the lecturers called off the eight months strike, the Federal Government, in October 2022 paid them half salary, saying they only worked for 18 days and should be paid as such based on the Federal Government no-work-no-pay policy.
The lecturers, who described the action as unlawful and also an injustice on them, urged government to pay them their backlogs and also do all other things necessary (especially those issues that led to the strike) to revamp the educational sector.
According to him, Ngige has variously misinformed and misinformed the Nigerian public in his attempts to turn them against ASUU membership in addition to denigrating them.
“He created several false impressions as regards the workings of academics world over by mischievously and ignorantly limiting the works of academics to just teaching which was why he orchestrated the stoppage of their salary on the grounds that they did not work during the periods of the strike.
“It is important to stress here that the work of academics is not limited to teaching only as ignorantly and or mischievously portrayed by Ngige.
The work of an academic world over is on a tripod of teaching, research and community development.
“It was the teaching component that was suspended during this strike while the other two were ongoing even within the period.”
Ejembi said going to court to procure a judgement that could not be appealed until after compliance with a ruling which was challengeable, to say the least, was not just a bid to further destroy the university system but a gross abuse of power which should not be condoned.
“This is not patriotism by any stretch. The ruling class should be humble enough to understand the functionality and operations of the university system.”
He said the union would continue to use strike as a last option to draw the attention of government and other critical stakeholders to their plights, adding: “We have demonstrated we are law abiding union in a government that is totally lawless. We are here today to create awareness and inform Nigerians that the Federal Government has started again. That we are patriotic union and craving for education hence Nigeria child deserves to be in school,” Ejembi said.
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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