The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the “enough is enough” admonition of President Muhammadu Buhari, which he issued while receiving some governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and other dignitaries who paid him a Sallah visit on Monday.
ASUU had been on strike since 14 February on account of irreconcilable differences with the Federal Government, and Buhari appealed to the university teachers to return to their classrooms in the interest of “our students and the country”.
But there is no clear idea of how the logjam will be resolved as the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who has been leading the negotiations between the parties involved in the dispute, is yet to make the government’s plan public.
In its response to President Buhari’s charge, ASUU recalled the number of times the Federal Government had breached agreements with it, saying it should be the one saying “enough is enough”.
The union reiterated that it was ready to call off the strike if the government okays its two main demands, which are to accept the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), and renegotiate the 2009 pact between the Federal Government and ASUU.
It advised the President to leave a legacy for himself by doing the “needful” to end the ASUU- government face-off.
ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke told The Nation on Tuesday that it was sad that almost a month after the union leadership concluded negotiations with the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led committee, the government had yet to get back to it.
Osodeke said it was the same outcome last year when the union had a pact with another committee on the condition of service for university teachers, headed by Prof Munzali Jubril. He lamented that the government failed to honour the agreement reached in May 2021.
He added: “We have given our conditions for returning to the classrooms. They (government) set up a committee to negotiate with us and when they (committee) came, we asked them: ‘do you have the mandate of the government to negotiate?’ And they said ‘yes’. We asked them: ‘does it mean that whatever we agree with will be accepted by the government? and they said ‘yes.’
“We started negotiations and we finished on the 16 June 2022. They (committee) said they were going back to show their principal and get permission to sign. We have been waiting till now.
“It is we who should be saying enough is enough. They did that in 2021; it took one year to come back and they are doing it again. We have told the country that any day that they (government) agree to sign and agree on a new salary payment system (UTAS) we will call off the strike immediately.
“Let him (Buhari) do the needful and let the children go back to school not saying enough is enough. He should put our universities right; that should be his legacy. He should go back saying that my legacy is to restore the dignity of the Nigerian university system which we have lost.
“It is the Nigerian people who elected them that should be saying enough is enough. They didn’t elect themselves. They were put in government by the average Nigerians whose children have been suffering today but their own children are abroad enjoying themselves.
“They should listen to those who elected them and Nigerian people are saying enough is enough; the government should respond to ASUU’s demands”.
ASUU called out its members over the non-implementation of the Memorandum of Action it signed with the government and the insistence of the government on the adoption of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) as a payment platform for all federal workers.
ASUU proposed UTAS as an alternative platform for the payment of its members’ salaries following discrepancies highlighted in the use of IPPIS.
Some of the other demands include the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the ASUU-FGN 2009 agreement, the release of the white paper report of the visitation panels to universities.
Credit: The Nation and The PUNCH