ASUU insists on 2009 pact, probe of NUC

By The Rainbow

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has signaled that university lecturers would not suspend their on-going strike unless the Federal Government implements in full the agreement both parties reached in 2009.

ASUU said recent reports that the union was about to call off the strike were untrue.

A joint statement by ASUU Benin Zone Coordinator, Dr. Sunny Ighalo and chairmen of the other chapters in the zone, Dr. Anthony Monye-Emina of University of Benin (UNIBEN); Dr. Emmanuel Mordi (DELSU); Prof. Fred Esumeh (AAU); Dr. Beke Sese (NDU) said that such reports purporting that the strike could be called off anytime were without basis.

Also, an ASUU activist and UNIBEN lecturer, Professor Tony Afejuku, has accused the Federal Government of attempting to blackmail the teachers with allegations in some quarters that monies released for research purposes had been mismanaged by some universities.
Afejuku, said in an interview with a national daily, that such allegations were part of the grand plan by theĀ  government to break the ranks of the union.

'That is a wild allegation, why is the Federal Government saying it now that we are on strike. This is a clever attempt to break our rank, but we are cleverer than that. Of course, they have the machinery to deal with such university authorities or management who do not use the monies that they claim they send. They can't break our rank,' he said.

On the plea in some quarters for the lecturers to go back to the classroom to save university education, the former Head of Department of Faculty of Arts said Nigerians were too gullible and that they do not understand what was involved in the strike.

'Nigerians are very gullible. In Sani Abacha's time, ASUU went on strike, then they came with Mother In Nigeria (MIN) championed by Rita Ilori. They pleaded with us and when we went back, MIN vanished. Today, we no longer talk of MIN. They just came together because their children were yet to graduate and they wanted them to graduate,' he said.

According to him, if the Federal Government could bail out troubled banks, which are private organisations with billions and trillions of naira, then there should be no excuse of lack of funds to do same for public institutions like the universities.

And not impressed with management of the Annual Stabilisation Fund (AST) for Nigerian universities estimated at over N100 billion, the Nsukka Zone of ASUU has called for full investigation of the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okogie, over the disbursement of the money.

The zone is made up of Abia State University, Anambra State University, Ebonyi State University, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka and University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The union also vowed that the strike must continue until Federal Government meets the teachers' demand, which include funding requirement for revitalisation of the universities, federal assistance to state universities, progressive increase of annual budgetary allocation to education to a minimum of 26 per cent as recommended by UNESCO, teaching and research equipment provision to their laboratories and classrooms, among others.

At a press briefing at the NAU, Anambra State on Monday, the Zonal co-coordinator, Dr. Chidi Osuagwu, accused Okogie of becoming a cog in the wheel of university education and development in Nigeria, resulting in a lack of facilities for teaching and learning in all the nation's higher institutions.

He appealed to anti-graft agencies such as Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate how the N100 billion was managed and spent by NUC.