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ASUU To Meet Federal Government Over Unmet Demands

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has scheduled a crucial meeting with the Federal Government for July 25, 2024, to address longstanding unmet demands that have strained relations between the two parties.

This was disclosed by ASUU’s National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in an interview with Punch on Sunday.

ASUU’s decision to meet follows weeks of escalating protests across university campuses nationwide, with both lecturers and students participating.

The union has been vocal about the Federal Government’s failure to honour the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with them in 2009, which includes various academic and welfare provisions.

The protesting academics have expressed their readiness to commence another round of industrial action should the government fail to meet their demands. This looming threat has added urgency to the upcoming discussions.

According to Prof. Osodeke, the recent protests have had a positive impact, prompting the government to engage more seriously with the union’s concerns.

In a bid to escalate their grievances, ASUU also published an open letter to President Bola Tinubu, demanding full implementation of all aspects of the MoU.

The letter outlined the union’s frustration with the government’s consistent neglect and the impact of such neglect on the quality of higher education in Nigeria.

He said, “We have met with the Minister of Education and reached a timeline. They made promises to us and we want to watch if it would be done. We are meeting two weeks from today, July 25th, to see if they have done what they promised.

“The protest made them call us for a meeting, they should fulfil their promise.”

Osodeke recalled that 10 issues and other emerging ones were the conclusion of the renegotiation of the FGN/ASUU Agreement based on the Nimi Briggs Committee’s draft Agreement of 2021.

He said the agreement was on the release of withheld three and a half months’ salaries on account of the 2022 strike action, release of unpaid salaries of staff on sabbatical leave, part-time, and adjunct appointments owing to the application of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System; release of outstanding third-party deductions, such as check-off dues and cooperative contributions; funding for revitalisation of public universities (partly captured in 2023 Federal Government’s Budget).

Other issues in contention include the Earned Academic Allowances (partly captured in the 2023 Federal Government’s Budget); the proliferation of universities by the federal and state governments; implementation of the reports of visitation panels to universities; Illegal dissolution of Governing Councils; and the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (in place of IPPIS).

Osodeke said, “Your Excellency is requested to set necessary machinery in motion for bringing ASUU and major stakeholders (Ministries, Departments, and Agencies) together to address the outstanding issues in FGN/ASUU engagements since 2009. This will save our university system the agonies of another round of industrial action and its disruptive potential. The President’s promise of smooth academic calendars in universities at the inception of this administration, we believe, is achievable if the government sincerely sits down to address the issues as listed here.”

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