Honour Renegotiated Draft Agreement – ASUU Urges FG

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has decried the underfunding of Federal and State universities in Nigeria.

They also called on the Federal Government to immediately set in motion the process leading to the review and signing of the Nimi Briggs-led renegotiated draft agreement.

The President of ASUU, President Emmanuel Osodeke, made this known while briefing newsmen on Wednesday at ASUU Secretariat, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia.

He noted that the call was part of the union’s resolution at the end of its recent National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, at the Niger Delta University Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa.

Osodeke said that such action would show a mark of goodwill and assured hope for Nigeria’s public universities.

According to him, Nigerian academics are tired of platitudes laced with disdain for intellectuals; only concrete steps to restore their eroded dignity lives can guarantee lasting peace on our campuses.

The ASUU president said that the then Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, truncated the process at the point of finalising the reviewed draft agreement.

He said: “From 2021 till date, the document has remained in its draft form.

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“The most obvious implication of the truncation of the renegotiation of the agreement is that the university teachers in Nigeria have been on the same salary regime since 2009, when the value of naira to a dollar was N120.

“Today, it is above N1,500.

“It is no longer news that the salaries of the highest paid professor, on the average, has been reduced to a meagre $210 per month.

“This is one of the least in the world!”

Osodeke regretted the the non implementation of the unilateral award of 35 and 25 per cent by President Muhammad Buhari administration, which had been activated through the National Wages, Salaries and Income Commission.

He expressed worry that the January salaries of its members were paid in the guise of ‘new IPPIS'(Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System), despite government’s announcement of the exit of tertiary institutions from the system.

Osodeke, revealed that the union’s position had been that the government should revert to quarterly releases of university funds to enable them design and implement their salary payment plans.

“In addition, government should release promotion arrears and pay all academics who were unjustly denied their salaries arising from the obnoxious imposition of IPPIS,” he said.

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On the hike in school fees, the ASUU National President disclosed that NEC condemns in its entirety, the wave of fee hike without inputs of the victims across our campuses, insisting that it would jeopardise aspirations of many students.

He maintained that students and their parents would have been saved the additional burden of hiked fees had the federal government kept faith with the agreement 2013 which provided for N1.3 trillion over a period of six years.

Osodeke alleged that daily scandalous reports of stupendous funds diverted from government treasuries at state and federal levels have continued to reinforce their belief that resources available to the country could support government-funded university education.

He listed other unresolved ASUU grievances to include withheld seven and half months salary in federal universities and varying months in state universities, arrears of earned academic allowances, illegal dissolution of governing councils and Integrated Personnel And Payroll Information System (IPPS).

The Union further called for the stripping of former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isah Patami, of the status of full-time Professor, saying that the Vice Chancellor and management of FUTO were wrong to award a serving minister as a professor.

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They also accused the VC of FUTO, Professor Nnenna Oti of allegedly victimizing members of ASUU in the Owerri-based federal university.

In his words: “We call on other patriots in the media, labour movement, student groups and civil society organisations to join our resolve to reposition the Nigerian university system for a transformed Nigeria”.