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ASUU scolds COPSON over comments

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By Abraham Adekunle

The union urged the committee to learn from federal universities.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has urged the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities in Nigeria (COPSON) to stop acting according to popular opinion. The union asked the committee to learn from their counterparts in federal universities that are pushing on the Federal Government to do what is needful for public universities. ASUU Rapid Response’s Convener, Prof. Ade Adejumo, reiterated that no amount of threat will make the union stop fighting for quality Education and better Welfare of its members.

Union condemned the communique which was issued at the end of COPSON’s meeting. The communique stated that the Federal Government should enforce the no-work-no-pay rule and that the centrally agreed negotiations will not be binding on them to obey. ASUU’s head said that COPSON needs to understand the principle of collective bargaining, which is supported by the law. Adejumo said, “Why have they not insisted that policies and directives of central regulatory bodies like the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Universities Commission (NUC) and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are not binding on them?”

Current strike action has exceeded seven months.

Ade Adejumo insisted that ASUU is one and that a thousand communiques from COPSON cannot break the resolve of ASUU members. He admonished the pro-chancellors to provide evidence that their schools have improved Salaries and better welfare of lecturers. He said that the committee and its members are always eager to run to Abuja to receive from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) which ASUU brought into existence. He also stated that Nigeria’s education system is being shown ominous signs. Finally, that the latest assault on the university system in Nigeria is evidenced by the communique released by COPSON.

Strike Action started on February 14, 2022 as a 30-day warning strike. After this period elapsed, the union extended the strike as it did multiple times. It was not until August 29, 2022 that the union declared an indefinite strike. This was after grounding public universities to a halt for over six months. Presently, the strike action has exceeded seven months. As of September 20, 2022, the strike has lasted for 218 days.

Are state universities justified to join the strike?

ASUU embarked on a strike action in February, 2022 because the Federal Government failed to implement the 2009 agreement that the Umaru Musa Yar’adua administration signed with the academic union. This is also in addition to the push for a better salary scale for lecturers as well as better working conditions. There is also a battle over ASUU’s University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which the union demanded to replace the Federal Government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Parties involved justified this strike action for federal universities because the majority of its students’ tuitions are waved or subsidized for by the government. At the University of Lagos, for instance, full-time students are exempt from paying tuition fees except administrative fees. However, many state universities charge students as much as half a million Naira per session as tuition fees. In addition, these state-owned universities are funded by their respective state governments. Also, sources have claimed the salary structure of a lecturer in a state-owned university is quite different from that of lecturers in a federal university. Hence, many critics have asked if state universities are justified to join the strike action.

Union in court battle with Federal Government.

On September 11, 2022, the Federal Government announced that it had referred the prolonged ASUU strike to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) for adjudication, following the failure of the two parties involved (the Federal Ministry of Education and ASUU) to come to an agreement. The court adjourned the case to September 19, 2022. Presently, the case has been adjourned to September 21, 2022. The government had approached the court to challenge the ongoing industrial strike action by ASUU.


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