…As UNILAG ASUU, meets Tuesday, declares lecture-free hours

Abiodun OBA

 

The nationwide mobilisation drive of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members before deciding its next line of action has begun.

Although the national body of ASUU has kept mum to enquiries regarding its directives to have a lecture-free day in government universities across the country, a member of the union confirmed to Channels Television that ASUU chairmen in all its branches have been directed to hold congresses and suspend lecturing on the day they choose for the congress.

ASUU and the Federal Government have been at loggerheads over welfare issues of members and the condition of universities across the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on February 1 said that the Federal Government will honour promises made to the union to prevent disruptive strikes, encourage uninterrupted academic programmes and improve funding of educational institutions.

The President commended the leadership of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) for intervening in the year-long strike by ASUU and holding consultations with the parties, saying no society which wishes itself well neglects its educational system and all its component parts.

He urged the council to tell ASUU that his administration regards them and the service they provide to the nation very highly.

Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter, has concluded plans to hold its sensitisation meeting on Tuesday between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

It, therefore, declared that within the period of the sensitisation meeting, there shall be no lecture, statutory meetings including supervision and seminars.

This is as the Lagos zone of the union has scheduled a briefing on the matter for between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on the same campus to address the public on the failure of the government to implement the contents of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) entered with the union in 2020 which led to the suspension of the then nine-month-long industrial action.

The aim of the meeting, the union said, is to sensitise the university community, the media and members of the public on the Nigerian government’s failure to address its grievances.

The university’s branch of the union, in a statement signed by its chairperson, Dele Ashiru, described as misinformation the news that the university was observing lecture-free day on Monday.

The statement read in part: “At the last NEC meeting of our union, all branches were directed to observe a day of mobilisation and sensitisation of members, students and the general public to the impending strike action over government insensitive and unwillingness to implement the renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement which will usher in a new and robust salary structure for our members.

“As you are already aware, tomorrow, 8th February 2022, has been declared as UNILAG’s day of mobilisation and sensitisation in compliance with the directive of NEC.

“In view of the above, there shall be no lectures, meetings, seminars, workshops, etc, during the period of the mobilisation and sensitisation congress between 11a.m and 2p.m. Members are therefore enjoined to attend the congress enmasse as a show of support and solidarity for the new salary and welfare structure.”

In a short notice issued by its coordinator, ‘Laja Odukoya, the Lagos zone of the union said it will address the press on the matter.

The zone comprises universities in Ogun and Lagos States including UNILAG, Lagos State University (LASU); Federal University of Agriculture. Abeokuta (FUNAAB); Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye (OOUA), and Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijagun.

Newsmen had on Sunday reported how Ahmadu Bello University, Bayero University and Usmanu Danfodiyo University released circulars informing their members and students of a lecture-free day on Monday.

ASUU national president, Emmanuel Osodeke, a professor, also confirmed the development via a telephone conversation.

He said the national executive council of the union directed alll chapters to embark on sensitisation on its demands that the government has failed to meet since 2020.

Mr Osodeke listed his union’s demands to include the sustainability of the university autonomy, which it said the introduction of IPPIS violates; immediate deployment of UTAS to replace IPPIS; renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement; release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities and distortions in salary payment challenges.

Others include funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowance, poor funding of state universities and promotion arrears.

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