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ASUU, GOVT FEUD DEEPENS AS LECTURERS REJECT 50% PAY RISE

By NBF News
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Obi
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday said it would not call off the strike embarked upon by its members in the South-east State Universities until the state governments accept to implement the Federal Government ASUU 2009 agreement.

ASUU National President, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie who said this yesterday while addressing newsmen in Awka with leaders of ASUU from the zone, also announced the rejection of the 50 per cent increase in salary and the additional N31 million monthly subvention offered by Anambra State government to the workers in the state university.

But in a swift reaction, the state government said the relationship between the workers and government was a contractual one, hence ASUU should go to court if it felt shortchanged rather than engage in mudslinging.

But speaking further, Awuzie said that Anambra State government's offer did not address the demands of ASUU striking members, insisting that ASUU members' strike was not to ask for increase in salary but to address 'critical shortfall of infrastructure and funding of the universities'.

The ASUU boss gave indication of the readiness of his members to continue the strike indefinitely because of government's disposition, stating, 'This struggle can only escalate in the coming weeks given their present disposition and our members are ready and willing to make whatever sacrifices that are needed to protect the interest of the youths and people of the South East and the university culture.'

He asked the government to refer to the recommendation of the Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma-led committee set up by the South East Governors last month if it were in doubt of what to do, stressing that the committee recommended that there should be parity in the implementation of the agreement reached between the Federal Government and ASUU by both federal and state governments.

Decrying the action of Governor Obi last month which he said tend to 'ethnicize' the negotiations between ASUU and the governments of the South East zone by asking non-Igbo speaking delegates of ASUU to leave the negotiation room, Awuzie said that the university was a universal institution which accommodates people from all over the world, hence would be preposterous for the Governor to reduce talks about the universities to an Igbo affair.

He therefore asked Governor Obi to 'put aside personal pride and ego and do the right thing and save our education and our children future.'

Meanwhile, the state government through the Chief Press Secretary to Anambra State Governor, Mr. Mike Udah while asking ASUU to seek legal action if it was satisfied with government's stand regretted that the union was politicizing the issue.

He said, 'It is crystal clear that people like Awuzie have left the academic world and embraced politics.

'They are free to do this; the only funny thing is that they have one leg in the academia and the other in politics or how else does one explain their adamant stance even after government has offered a 50 per cent increase of their pay?

'Surely, the Awuzies of this world must be those lecturers who recycle one lecture note several decades over because they do not have time to conduct research. Pray, when did ASUU become a regulatory authority for the universities as to worry over their purported dilapidation? ASUU is only a labour union. The NUC is still alive to its duties and does not need ASUU's prompting to act.

'Governor Obi has transformed ANSU - built Mass Communication Department, Law Faculty plus Law Library adjudged the best in the whole of the South East region etc. Awuzie and co. had better purchase nomination forms and contest elections because they are now politicians.'