….Threatens Strike Action
By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said that the union may shut down all public universities in the country if the federal government fails to implement the components of the agreement it entered into with the union in 2017.
The group said they had been patient with the federal government over the implementation of outstanding issues in the memorandum of understanding they were both signatories as the government of the federation appeared to be complacent over the implementation of the said agreement and ASUU cannot condone such any longer.
Speaking to newsmen in Awka alongside other officers from the zone on the position of ASUU in the whole episode, the Zonal Coordinator ASUU Owerri Zone, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama noted that the federal government should do the needful to avert total collapse of public universities in Nigeria.
He said that the cycle of strikes the union had experienced in the country was as a result of bad leadership emphasising that as long as the current set of leaders were in positions of authority, the nation would continue to have bad leadership, bad government and probably the cycle of strikes would continue.
The zonal coordinator said that the 20 billion naira approved for the revitalisation of public universities was part and parcel of the MoU the union entered into with government in 2017 while the union was on strike and that the money was supposed to have been released in two installments between September and October 2017 respectively.
Onyebinama explained that until 26th September, the said N20bn was not released even though there were fictitious reports in the media that the president had approved the release of 20 billion naira to ASUU. He added that what the union had was approval and according to him, they were not aware that the N20billion had been released to the universities.
He maintained that until the said N20 billion was officially released to universities, the union would assume that that aspect of the 2017 MoU had not been implemented, stressing that it was about one year now that the money was supposed to have been released to universities.
The ASUU zonal coordinator emphasized that ‘We also read in some reports that said federal government has released N20 billion to ASUU. The money was not released to ASUU.
‘When the money is released, it will pass through the normal process; ministry of education, NUC and university administrators. The report that the money is released to ASUU is unfounded,’ he said.
The union also considered the proposal for an education bank and students’ loan scheme a deliberate effort to commercialise public universities as well as incentives for private universities to maximize profit, pointing out that the union viewed such as a calculated attempt to blackmail the union before Nigerian students and before the general public while appealing to well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the federal government to meet its obligations in the nation’s education sector.