The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has decried what it called ‘an evil gang up’ against public education in Nigeria adding that the federal government is allowing the golden opportunity to resolve the contention to slip away.
Chairperson of ASUU, Modibbo Adama University (MAU) branch, Yola, El-Maude Jibreel Gambo who decried the crass neglect being meted to public education at a press conference on Tuesday, accused the minister of labour Dr. Chris Ngige of waging a personal vendetta against ASUU.
He noted that as a law abiding union of intellectuals, ASUU has complied with the rulings of the national industrial court and that of the court of appeal but despite that the federal government has blatantly refused to engage the union in finding lasting solutions to the lingering issues between it and the lectures.
“The federal government of Nigeria is missing the opportunity presented by the suspension of the strike to engage the union on finding amicable ways of resolving the issues that led to the strike.
“Instead, the minister of labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige in pursuance of his personal vendetta and war he declared against ASUU, wrote to the minister of finance to pay our members pro-rata salaries, thus treating us as casual labourers. Its so sad that governance has been turned to an avenue of oiling personal ego irrespective of the damage being caused to the nation’s universities,” he said.
The university don noted that FG’s refusal to pay lecturers their 7 months withheld salary in addition to pro-rata payment of October salary clearly signals a hidden agenda to casualize the academic environment and suffocate public universities in Nigeria.
“ASUU has signed three different Memorandum of Action (MoA) with the current government in 2017, 2019 and 2020. But the government failed to implement substantial components of the MoA’s. This is apart of the government discarding the reports that arose from collective bargaining between the two committees constituted by the government headed respectively by Prof. Munzali Jibril and Prof Nimi Briggs on one hand and ASUU on the other hand.
“The collective bargaining reports contained far reaching agreements on condition of service of university staff, funding and autonomy of universities that if implemented would go a long way in changing the narrative of the university education in Nigeria to a better one. The FGN mischievously refused to accept the report of committees the government itself set up but insisted on ASUU accepting ridiculous “take it or leave it” offer,” Gambo said.
He accused FG of consistently failing to address the major issue in contention including review of condition of service of university staff, payment of outstanding Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), funding for revitalization of universities and release of reports of visitation panels to universities which if done, were meant to resuscitate public universities adding that instead the government created diversionary measures through litigation while refusing to pay legitimate earned salaries.
“The two key ministers (Adamu Adamu and Chris Ngige) have contributed significantly in ensuring that the impasse lingers without end in sight by creating bottle necks and sometimes deliberately sabotaging efforts aimed at resolving the impasse. Moreover, Adamu Adamu categorically stated that he has failed in discharging his responsibilities but president Buhari is still maintaining him as a minister.
“Majority of the people in government are products of free education but they deliberately refused to extend such gesture to the children of the masses. They are comfortably siphoning our common resource to educate their children in private foreign universities while superintending the conversion of public universities to glorified secondary schools,” Gambo added.
The university don called on Nigerians to support ASUU in its quest to frustrate the evil gang up meant to totally destroy the university system.
“We urge Nigerians to impress it on government that the path it has taken will not augur well for Nigerian education and economy. ASUU will not be coerced into abandoning the just struggle for the restoration of the university system for the benefit of the people of Nigeria, especially the poor and downtrodden Nigerians
“ASUU will resist all attempts to treat academic staff of universities as casual labourers and any move to jettison the principle of collective bargaining,” Gambo said.