By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
The Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) and Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) have said the Federal Government did not reach a “strong agreement” with them that can lead to calling off the ongoing industrial actions.
All the university unions in the country are presently on strike.
ASUU started its strike on February 14, 2022, while the JAC of ASUU and NASU commenced its own on April 14, 2022.
The unions embarked on industrial actions while demanding improved welfare packages, better working conditions and implementation of various labour agreements signed with the Federal Government between 2009 and 2020.
The presidents of ASUU and JAC, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke and Mr Mohammed Ibrahim respectively, told The PUNCH that the Federal Government, all stakeholders in the education sector and religious leaders had a meeting with the four unions but no “strong agreements” were reached.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, was quoted over the weekend as saying: “We had a cordial and fruitful discussion; we looked at the issues dispassionately and reached some agreements, to the satisfaction of everybody in attendance.”
But Osodeke said Ngige’s claim after the meeting that the unions would call off the ongoing strike this week was a political statement.
He said: “We are not aware that we are calling off the strike. We met but there was nothing concrete between us and the government. Like we said before, we do not want promises, we want actions, if they show action and implement all the issues, we will go to our members, but knowing their antecedents, we know they will not do anything.
“They promised us since December 2020 and it is going to a year and a half, they have not done anything. We are waiting for them.
“As far as we are concerned, only when they sign our agreements, accept UTAS, release EAA and revitalisation funds will we call the strikes off.”
Ibrahim added that the major progress he could point at during the meeting was the ordering of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) by the presidency, who was represented by the Chief of Staff to the President and Chairman of the meeting, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, to subject the three payment solutions; Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) , University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and University Peculiar Payroll Payment System (UPPPS) to integrity test and submit in three weeks.
“We are not talking about calling off strike now,” Ibrahim added.