The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has declared a seven-day warning nationwide strike, commencing on Wednesday, 16th November, 2016 to press home the demands for payment of outstanding sum of N660 billion for revitalisation of public universities.
Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President disclosed at a press briefing after an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Abuja, however stressed that the Union will not fail to declare an indefinite and comprehensive action if Federal Government fails to take necessary action at the expiration of the warning strike.
He however noted that the warning strike may be shelved if Federal Government responded before the commencement of the strike by conveying its intention through a letter to the Union, to set up a negotiation Committee that will interface with the Union.
Ogunyemi who frowned at the failure of Federal Government to implement various tripartite agreements signed since 2009, 2013 among others, decried the half-salary policy being implemented at the Federal and state leveled in which 40% salaries being paid to Lecturers in all Federal universities, since 2015.
“The second dimension of denial of staff entitlements is in respect of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA). The 2009 FGN-ASUU agreement implementation Committee had submitted a report of the outstanding balance of N65,833,047,372.24 (2009-2013) plus N62,417,645,224,224.23 (2014-2016) amounting to an unpaid balance of N128,250,692,596.47 for more than six months. This was in line with the memorandum of understanding (MoU) reached between the Federal Government and ASUU while resolving the crisis in June-November, 2013.
He maintained that the total sum of N1.3 trillion proposed for the revitalisation of public universities between 2014-2018, has been flawed by irregularities by Federal Government, adding that the “initial N100 billion supposedly released and ring-fenced at the Central Bank of Nigeria has not been fully released.”
“At a meeting with the Minister on the 10th May, 2016, ASUU made it clear that the initial N30 billion paid university staff as part of EAA in 2013 was given to the governing Councils, not the Union as presented by the ministry officials. The Union also corrected the impression that the record of the balance of the EAA had not been submitted by the IMC.
While reflecting on the state of the economy, Ogunyemi who displayed copy of the IMF working paper on ‘Treasury Single Account (TSA) concept, design and implementation issues’ argued that various policies by the Development partners have failed to alleviate the economic challenges bedevilling Nigeria.
On the recent approval granted by Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the establishment of eight new universities, the ASUU chieftain who frowned at the development, urged the Presidency and State Governors to expand the facilities in the existing tertiary institutions in order to accommodate more youths rather than turning it to Constituency project.
The ASUU helmsman also urged relevant stakeholders to prevail on National Pension Commission to release the registration certificate of the proposed Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO) for which ASUU has paid total sum of N1 billion on the directive of the Commission.
He also urged Federal Government to revisit the implementation of TSA by excluding Universities due to the peculiarities of the institutions.
Similarly, ASUU called for upward review of the budgetray allocation to the education sector, stressing that the reduction of a location from 11% in 2015 to 8% in 2016 reflects the lipservice being paid to the sector.
“We tried to correct the erroneous impression in government circles that the capital and research grants to universities were being handled by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) on the ground that grants from an intervention agency cannot replace statutory funding of education at a time we believe allocation to education in the budget should be gravitating towards 26% recommended for an underdeveloped country like Nigeria,” he noted.