Barring eleventh hour action from the Federal Government of Nigeria, public universities in the country may embark on another round of industrial action beginning from next week.
This follows a directive from the National Executive Council (NEC) of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that all its branches should hold a Referendum today, 10th August 2017, to decide on issues arising from the 2009 ASUU/FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) agreement.
A memo from Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat of the Union indicates that the issues in contention are:
1. Payment of fractions/non-payment of salaries.
2. Non payment of earned academic allowances.
3. Non release of the operational license of NUPENCO (Nigerian Universities Pension Commission).
4. Retired Professors and their salaries.
5. University Staff schools.
6. Funds for the revitalization of public universities.
The memo expects members to vote on the following options, in the event that Government fails to satisfactorily address the above issues by tomorrow (Friday, 11th August 2017).
- Non strike action.
- One week warning strike.
- One month warning strike.
- Total and indefinite strike.
The National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU met in Nasarawa State University, Keffi, on July 22nd and 23rd, to take decisions on the Referendum that is holding in university campuses nationwide, today (10th August 2017). The Union has a history of getting inputs from all its members, before arriving at resolutions on issues of grave national importance such as the issue at hand.
In Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), the branch’s congress was still in progress at the Calabar campus of the University at the time of filing this report. Unofficial feelers from that congress indicate that the ”non strike action” option is the least popular option among most members in attendance.
The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Union is expected to meet this weekend at Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat in Abuja, to collate inputs from the Referendum, after which a public statement would be made on it.
It would be recalled that in June 2009, ASUU called on its members in Federal and State universities to proceed on an indefinite strike over disagreements on an agreement that it reached with the Federal Government in 2007. That strike lasted for three months. It was suspended after the union and other staff unions signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in October 2009.
The union resumed another strike action in July 2013, after it accused the Federal Government of reneging on the terms of that agreement. That strike action was suspended in December 2013. Unfortunately, disagreements still persist on that agreement.
- Cornelius Ellah