By Mustapha Barde
The lingering ASUU strike has been on for almost eight months now and has crippled educational activities in Nigerian public universities. As per reasons given by ASUU leadership to embark on an indefinite strike, the government has engaged ASUU leadership to resolve all issues of contention frontally taking into consideration each issue one by one.
Firstly, the issue of earned academic allowance (EAA), the federal government has approved N30bn for all the unions that is ASUU, NASU, SSANU and NAAT. But for reasons best known to ASUU leadership, they requested the government to leave the approved money to ASUU members alone, excluding other unions on which the goverment disagree with ASUU by asserting its earlier position that the money belongs to all the unions in public universities.
Secondly, the Federal Government has approved N20bn as revitalization fund to cater for public universities in Nigeria which is also part of earlier memorandum of understanding signed between the lectures and previous administrations. This also forms part of the reasons for this strike action by ASUU and government has agreed to approve the said money.
The issue of visitation panel which Mr.President through the Minister of Education has also given an approval for the Constitution of visitation panels to oversee all public universities in the country. The visitation panels members will include all the unions in public universities, in line with extent laws which is once in every five years. So the visitation panels will cover 2011-2015 and 2016 -2020 which implies that the visitation panels’ report will cover a 10-year period.
The last issue is on a Presidential directive that workers in the public universities should enroll in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in order to ensure transparency in salary payment. But ASUU leadership rejected the enrollment of its members citing peculiarities. The Accountant General of the Federation has assured ASUU members of taking into consideration the peculiarities in the universities. Infact, all other workers (NASU, SSANU, NAAT) and members of ASUU who were enrolled on the IPPIS are receiving their salaries via IPPIS.
However, more than 75percent of ASUU members have enrolled on the IPPIS which shows that majority of lecturers have accepted the government policy of paying salaries in public universities. Even though the IPPIS remains the contentious issue with the lecturers union leadership, I wonder how can an employee decide the mode of payment an employer will use for salary payment. And even at that, the government has agreed to study the University Transparency Accountability System (UTAS) which asuu leadership developed for salary payment to undergo the necessary sucrutiny in line with government’s salary payment sofware application.
So conclusively, the Federal Government under the leadership of president Muhammadu Buhari has been proactive and has shown commitment to addressing the issues regarding the industrial action embarked upon by the university lecturers. Considering the fact that government is facing dwindling resources at its disposal due to fall in oil prices in the international market, and the covid-19 pandemic effect across the globe, but yet is able to do the needful in resolving the lingering ASUU strike by giving approvals to resolve each issue in contention.
Nigerian students under the umbrella of (NANS), parents and all well meaning Nigerians should blame the ASUU leadership for the impasse because all has been done to avert the unnecessary ASUU strike which raises the question: what does ASUU want again. The government has been cooperative all through, so ASUU should be considerate and call off the strike for students to resume as soon as possible.
The time for that is now.
Barde sent this comment from Abuja