…May consider strike

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has given the Federal Government two weeks to reconstitute the Governing Councils of the federal universities, and also meet other demands of the Union as contained in agreements it signed with the government.

The Union said it won’t guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the universities after the grace period if the government fails to meet its demands

ASUU President Emmanuel Osodoke, at a press conference, in Abuja, on Tuesday, said the decision was taken at the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Union that ended in Abuja, on Monday.

He said: “Imagine the level of illegalities and impunities going on in the universities. The Vice Chancellors are practically running the institutions like a sole administrator. That’s an illegality that can only happen in Nigeria. Several decisions that ought to be reviewed and taken by the Council is being taken by the VC with some of them claiming that they got approval from the Minister of Education.

“Sadly, despite the presidential directive early in the year, our members are still being paid through the IPPIS platform. This has inflicted unprecedented hardship on our members and fraudulently distorted university operations. That’s against the university autonomy.

“Similarly, Federal Government recently adopted salary award, but we have consistently stated that salary awards are not substitute for a negotiated agreement.”

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He, however, said the decision of the two weeks ultimatum is to awaken the consciousness of the government to the challenges, insisting that the silence of the government in several issues highlighted is affecting the smooth running of the universities.

He said: “A number of other issues on which ASUU has been engaging owners of public universities (Federal and State Governments) in the last one decade or so, are yet to be meaningfully addressed.

“These include the sanctity of legally constituted Governing Councils; review of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreements, revitalization fund for public universities; earned academic allowances; and withheld salaries, promotion arrears, and third-party deductions of our members.

“The other issues are ongoing illegal recruitments in the system; proliferation of public universities/abuse of universities rules/processes, and inclusion in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and new IPPIS vis-à-vis the autonomy of universities.

“In view of the critical review of the current state of affairs in our universities, as well as in our nation at the last ASUU NEC meeting, the Council condemned the seeming refusal of federal and state governments to decisively address all outstanding issues with the union.

“NEC thus rejected all the ongoing illegalities and flagrant violation of university autonomy in public universities as a result of non-reinstatement/reconstitution of Governing Councils; and decided to reconvene in two weeks from the date of the NEC meeting to review the situation and take a decisive action to address the issues.”