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ASUU To Members: Don’t Make Salary Demands the Pivot of Your Struggle

The Union’s President Osodeke said members need to know why actions like strikes are taken, adding that there must be other considerations.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has warned members against making the issue of their salaries and welfare the only basis of their struggle and agitation at the expense of the system and the institution generally.

 ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, reiterated the warning in his remarks at the opening of a workshop, hosted by the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye branch of the union.

The workshop, which also featured presentation of national and branch scholarship to 12 students of OOU, was attended by representatives of the union from all over the country.

The programme by the ASUU national and OOU – ASUU under the auspice of the Centre for Popular Education (CEPED) had as its theme: “The Demand for Scholarship in the 21st Century”.

Osodeke said the workshop was organized to sensitize members to understand that ASUU struggle is not about salary and welfare of lecturers alone, but about quality university education for egalitarian society, quality outputs, better funding and better Nigeria.

He said ASUU members needed to know why some actions like strikes are taken, adding that there must be other considerations.

Osodeke said: “Unions which made members’ salaries and welfare as the only and focal points of their struggles when they should have fought perseveringly for the survival, continuity and efficiency of public institutions lost their jobs and welfare at the end of the day when those institutions collapsed.

“If the union makes salary the essence of its struggle, members of the union will lose their jobs once the institution collapses and the union will die.

“That is why today, those things that were there in the 60’s and 70’s, were not there again. For instance, we used to have Nigeria Railways. Nigeria Railways was the best in Africa, but the workers left the system and were fighting for themselves and their salaries alone and today there is no railway again and they have lost their jobs.

“But if they had fought for the system, saying let have Railways working from Calabar, Port Harcourt, Benin, Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and others working, their jobs will still be working and the union will still be stronger.

“The Nigeria Airways too used to have a strong union but what do you have now and also see NEPA. NEPA union left the institution and fought for themselves, today NEPA is no more.

“The same thing is happening to the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), the public primary school and secondary schools are dead, while private ones have taken over. When private people take over, unions are not allowed.”

Speaking on the ASUU members salary arrears, Osodeke said the Federal Government had yet to pay them.

He said:  “They are owing us seven and half month’s salaries. They have paid some of our members two months. So, there is nothing to be celebrated.

 Things should not continue that way. What we are saying is that let us meet and decide on a timeline. If it is to be paid within one year, let us have a definite arrangement. That is the way to go.

“Even if we agree that you pay us current one and if it is two months that can be paid for, let us know. If the government says it does not have money to pay now, let us know if it is within eight months that the money can be paid, let us know.  That is the way to go, then our people will not go on strike,” he added.

Meanwhile, ASUU, Kano zone has urged President Bola Tinubu to faithfully set in motion the process of upward reviewing and signing the Nimi Briggs Committee’s renegotiated draft agreement as a mark of goodwill and to forestall the industrial crisis in the country.

The call was made by the Zonal Coordinator of Kano Zone, Abdulqadir Muhammad, during a press conference on Wednesday in Kano.

He accused the federal government of being insensitive to the problems bedeviling the country’s education sector, adding that the government is not ready to address their demands.

The ASUU-Kano zone appealed to the federal and state governments to address all outstanding issues in the agreements and memorandum they signed with their union to avert industrial disharmony.

“All members of ASUU are increasingly running out of patience due to government’s continued refusal to honour the terms of these agreements

“These issues include renegotiation of the federal government – ASUU 2009 agreement which was reached when the exchange rate to the dollar was N146.7 and currently has risen to N1,900 per dollar which has eroded their salary by 90 per cent” he stated.

Muhammad lamented the refusal of the Nigerian government to sign a draft agreement reached with the union even after changing the leaders of the negotiation committee severally.

In the same vein, the Kano zone called on the Kaduna state government to immediately and unconditionally pay the five-month, May – September 2022, withheld salaries of Kaduna State University.

The union further condemned what it termed as usurpation of the university autonomy by dissolving the governing councils of public universities describing it as a contravention of the Universities Miscellaneous Acts and respective university laws.

The union also appealed to the federal government to urgently review the Nigeria University Commission (NUC) Act to check the proliferation of universities in the country without adequate provision for funding.

On the state of the nation, ASUU expressed worry over the spread of insecurity, worsening poverty, unemployment, rising cost of living, livelihood displacement, and heightened destitution in the country.

In attendance at the zonal meeting were ASUU members, comprising Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University Kano (BUK) and Kaduna State University, Kaduna.

Others included: Kano State University of Science and Technology, Wudil; Federal University, Dutse, Yusuf Maitama Sule University and Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa, Jigawa state.

James Sowole and Ahmad Sorondinki

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