There are indications that another closure of universities in Nigeria may be a reality as the university lecturers, under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Thursday, September 9, said only two out of its eight demands have been met by the Federal Government.
There have always been running battles between the university teachers and the Federal Government over various issues affecting the universities and the welfare of lecturers, leading to incessant closure of universities, with the institutions closed for about nine months in 2019.
However, on Thursday, the university teachers warned that there might be another closure of universities due to the fact that out of its eight demands tabled before the government during their last meeting, only two of the demands have been met while six are yet to be looked into by the Federal Government.
The Ibadan zone of the union disclosed this during their meeting held on Thursday at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomosho, Oyo State, where they announced that the government had reneged on their agreement as it had only fulfilled two out of their eight demands.
According to a statement by the ASUU Ibadan zone which was sent to my mailbox after the meeting chaired by its Coordinator in LAUTECH, Professor Oyebamiji Oyegoke, the situation was described as 'ticking bomb' and that that the educational system could be engulfed in another crisis.
Others in attendance at the meeting who signed the statement were the Chairmen from the University of Ibadan, Professor Ayo Akinwole; University of Ilorin, Professor Moyosore Ajao; Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr Biodun Olaniran and Kwara State University, Dr Shehu Salau.
According to the statement, the two issues that had been addressed by the government were salary shortfall and setting up of visitation panels to the Federal Government-owned universities in the past nine months.
ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke
The other demands that are yet to be met are renegotiation of conditions of service, injection of revitalisation funds, payment of earned academic allowances, renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and non-remittance of check-off dues.
According to the statement: “For the avoidance of doubt, ASUU stated that only salary shortfall and setting up of visitation panels to the Federal Government-owned universities have been addressed by the government in nine months.
“Other demands such as the renegotiation of conditions of service, injection of revitalisation funds, payment of earned academic allowances, implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) have not been addressed.
"Also yet to be addressed were the proliferation of state universities, release of withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues of unions, which were all contained in the December 22, 2020 Memorandum of Action.
"The claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment that the money allocated for revitalisation of public universities had been paid as contained in the MoA of 2020 cannot be true.
“The same minister confirmed on August 2, 2021 that the money is still in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) awaiting application by the Minister of Education for eventual transfer to the NEEDS Assessment Fund Account.
“That government is working hard to facilitate the release of money by the CBN since January 2021 leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
“The more the government insists on fulfilling the demands of the integrity test on UTAS, the longer the accompanying pains earlier identified in IPPIS will stay with our members.
“The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on behalf of the Federal Government, promised that a broader government team and inter-ministerial committee on the draft renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement would conclude its work and submit the report to the government by the end of August, 2021.
“The meeting concluded with an agreement to reconvene by the end of August 2021 to ascertain the faithfulness of the Federal Government in resolving the outstanding issues.
“We are in the second week of September 2021, nothing positive from the Federal Government so far."
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