The leadership of the National Assembly, NASS, and the Federal Government, yesterday, appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to call off the lingering strike.
The NASS and FG made the plea after a meeting with Pro-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of public universities in Abuja. The FG, according to them, has made offers and commitment to necessitate the resumption of academic activities in the nation’s public universities.
Senate Chairman on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, said, “The Senate Committee has always sought the required fund for our nation’s universities.
“We plead with ASUU for immediate end of the strike. We want to plead with lecturers to be more sensitive to their scale of priorities especially in the area of education and timely implementations of agreements. The present ASUU strike must end. It is time for the nation to take the bull by the horn”.
Aslo speaking, Chairman House Committee on Education, Honourable Aminu Suleiman said, “I want to commend all those who have fought for the proper funding of our universities in the country. The Federal Government have also taken position to identify the needs of all our Federal Polytechnics and Colleges of Education to stop this problem once and for all.
“It is gratifying to know that government has shifted grounds and it is also in our position to passionately appeal to the aggrieved members of ASUU in the interest of the system to also make concession so that students can resume school”.
“We always agree to disagree we can always disagree without disrupting the system. We must appreciate that by prolonging this strike we are doing more harm to the system and causing more problems for the country in general.
“What government has done is quite in line with the legislative agenda which we set out for ourselves as members of House of Representatives. No sacrifice is too much in ensuring the development of the sector,” Suleiman said.
On his part, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, said the FG has already demonstrated sufficient commitment to the implementation of 2009 FG/ASUU agreement.
According to him, President Goodluck Jonathan has set N100 billion to develop infrastructure in 61 universities and N30 billion to support the university councils in settling the earned allowances.
“Government is making every effort to revitalise the university system, by this demonstration of clear commitment to revitalise the university system, government hereby urges every staff of the nation’s universities to return to work as all issues are being resolved,” Anyim said.
He noted that most of the issues contained in the 2009 agreement, which necessitated the current strike had been fully met except for the earned allowances which ASUU pegged at N92 billion.
According to him: “On July 2, 2013, ASUU declared what it called, “total and indefinite strike” over issues it says have remained unresolved pertaining to an agreement it reached with government in 2009.
“It is pertinent to narrate the genesis of the 2009 agreement, ASUU went on strike action in 2006 based on their request for a review of personnel matters, on account of this, government initiated a Needs assessment of the university system comprising federal and states universities, the negotiations led to the 2009 agreement.
“Some of issues which bothered on amendment of pensionable retirement age of academics in the professorial cadre, consolidated peculiar allowances (CONPUAA), exclusively for university teaching staff, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), setting up of budget monitoring committee in all public universities have been fully implemented,” he added.
He further said that areas where government hands were tied like the transfer of Federal Government landed property to universities have been clearly explained why it would not be possible to implement such aspects.
“Government has been clear that it cannot transfer government landed property to ASUU because it has no structure to manage or maintain such property.
“Government is however willing to support any council that sets up a property company with management structure to compete with others in the industry,” he stated.
The SGF therefore appealed to the university teachers to call of the eight weeks old strike.