ASUU STRIKE 2013 UPDATE: The Federal Government has on Tuesday declared that an additional 30 billion naira has been released to the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, claiming that it is at the verge of meeting almost all the demands of the University lecturers.
Disclosing this development to newsmen, Gabriel Suswam, Chairman of the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS) assessment implementation committee for universities, asserted that the Ministry of Education would disburse the fund to various universities across the country for the settlement of lecturers’ allowances.
In his appeal to ASUU to consider the plight of the students and that of the government, Mr. Suswam faulted the union’s earlier claims that the N100 billion disbursed to the Union by the government for infrastructures in universities was without due and prior consultations.
The ASUU leadership had last week expressed concerns that a clear modus operandi for assessing the funds released for the universities was yet to be stated by the government.
Meanwhile, ASUU President, Nasir Fagge has continued to hold on to his position that anything short of N500 billion would not meet the immediate needs of the universities.
“We observe that the Committee is so far mentioning only N100 billion. If the implementation is to be related to the funding requirements in the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement and the January 2012 MoU, what is due for 2012 and 2013 is N500 billion, not N100 billion,” Mr. Fagge had said.
Mr. Suswam has however refuted claims of the Academic body, affirming that they were carried along in the entire process where N100 billion was agreed.
He said, “ASUU participated in all the meetings where it was agreed to raise N100 billion, which has already been distributed to all the universities,”
“In fact, the president of ASUU nominated one Dr. Baffa, who is very resourceful. He did all the work, and presented the criteria for distribution of the money which is based on the population of each university,” Mr. Suswam added.
Suswan further clarified that the draft of the document was earlier sent to ASUU for scrutiny by the Committee and wondered where the complaint was coming from.
“Instead, they wrote me a letter accusing the committee of insincerity. The councils are the ones that would verify what we are owing, go and ask them, ASUU said no, that unless we put N92 billion on the table,” Mr. Suswam said.
Suswam warned the lecturers to stop blackmailing the government with their protest as the strike was almost going political.
Recall that President Goodluck Jonathan and his cabinet members, especially, the Minister of Finance and Education have been at the receiving end since the strike action commenced. Even though the presidency has allayed fear that the agreement which was signed under a different administration would have adverse effect on the nation’s economy, President Jonathan has accepted to bear responsibility for the ongoing strike action and has appealed to the aggrieved lecturers to go back to classroom while the negotiation continues, or better still make a reasonable attempt at shifting ground.
With several appeals from the government and other well meaning Nigerians on the need for the Academic body to resume work, many Nigerians are of the opinion that ASUU would have relaxed its decision and consider the ongoing nationwide appeal.