Thursday, December 8, 2011

Senate blames Federal Governmnent on ASUU strike

Previously. we talked about ASUU industrial action, but today, we are bringing to you, the accused...

The Senate, while accusing the Federal Government of being responsible for the strike by the university teachers, stressed that government’s continued delay in the full implementation of the agreement reached with ASUU in 2009 was responsible for the strike.

Speaking when the Education Minister, Professor Rukuayyatu Ahmed Rufai, appeared before the Senate Committee on Education, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Uche Chukwumerije (PDP, Abia South) warned that the National Assembly and Nigerians were not prepared for excuses from the government. Also yesterday, the Senate rejected excuses by the minister in implementing the 2009 agreement reached with ASUU, when she tried to explain, adding that the explanations were not tenable.

Chukwumerije, who warned the government against foot-dragging on the implementation of the agreement reached with ASUU in 2009, said: “I wonder why it is taking the Federal Government almost three years to implement the agreement reached with the academic staff and even settles all the contentious issues.
”This is December and in few weeks time, we will be in 2012. It took a judgment by the Supreme Court before the matter on the illegal sack of University of Ilorin teachers could be implemented; do you also want us to wait for another four years on this?”
Rufai, who had explained that most of the nine-point demands had been implemented while the eighth had got to the stages of implementation, stressed that the real bone of contention was the content of the retirement age bill that merged universities with all other tertiary institutions.
Adding that the processes that all the issues have to pass through caused the delay, but which ASUU is kicking against.
The furious Chukwumerije who was not happy with the minister’s excuses that the remaining eight were being delayed because of the processes, said, “You keep saying processes and processes. These processes are they made in the moon or Jupiter or where else. Are you not the people that created these processes? Or is it that you are waiting for another court action before you implement an agreement both parties willingly singed almost three years ago? Why can’t these processes be speed up to safe us another agony of going on strike?”.
Replying, the Minister who noted that it was not that government deliberately refused to attend to other demands, said that the circumstances surrounding them does not help the matter especially the difference in the 65 years retirement age for Non-academic staff and 70 years for the academic staff.
“On the passage of the bill on retirement age of 65 years for non-teaching and 70 years for teaching professional cadre, the ministry has since directed that affected staff who may retire before the passage of the bill should be offered contract appointments and regularized when the bill takes effect”, she said.
Speaking further, the Committee, Senate Committee on Education who noted that the bill on retirement age of lecturers was being treated expressly, disclosed that it has already reached second reading in the House of Representatives and on its way to second reading in the senate.
Chukwumerije who warned the Federal Government against further delay said, “You said the delay is caused by the process, Mrs. Minister, were these process made in moon or Jupiter, why can’t these process be sped up for God’s sake, please, call anyone involved to order or else, the senate may be forced to take some unexpected steps”.
Defending the Federal government, the Education Minister noted that remaining two agreements which were yet to be implemented required legal provisions, while the federal government was awaiting the recommendation of the Implementation Monitoring Committee, IMC on the transfer of the landed property.
On the implementation of the new salary package, (CONUASS 11), Professor Professor Rukuayyatu Ahmed Rufai said that the sum of N14billion was released to pay the outstanding arrears from July 2009 and the Earned Academic Allowances EAA, adding, “the allowances are to be paid by the institutions from their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR which some of the ivory towers have partially implemented.
“All have complained that they cannot generate the IGR needed for its full implementation. However, as at 2010, the total IGR declared by the 26 universities and 3 inter-Universities centers was over N25billion. On 28th September, 2011, the universities presented a bill of over N106billion as the additional funding required to fully implement the EAA.
The minister further declared that there has been a progressive increase in funding to federal universities since the 2009 agreement was signed, stressing that the increment ranged between over N84 billion in 2007 to over N184 billion in 2010, adding that the funding however does not include intervention fund from TET fund, PTDF, IGR among others, while the proposal by federal universities for the revitalization of the federal universities between 2009 and 2011 is N1.518 trillion.
She also told the Education committee that the sponsorship of the lecturers for post graduate studies have been fully implemented through the TET fund intervention.
The Minister and other stakeholders later left the Senate for a meeting with ASUU and the Federal government with the federal government team being headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

ASUU embarks on Industrial Action today over non-implementation of Agreement

UNIVERSITY lecrurers announced yesterday a “total, comprehensive and indefinite strike”. Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are angry over what they called the government’s refusal to implement the 2009 Federal Government  (FGN)/ASUU agreement. Besides, said ASUU, the government disregarded the two months grace the union gave for the government to show faith in the agreement.
ASUU National President Ukachukwu Awuzie told reporters in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, that the decision to embark on the strike was painful.
Awuzie, a professor, read a 12-page statement, saying that the proposed removal of fuel subsidy would be resisted by the union.
He noted that the long-drawn interaction ASUU had with the Federal Government bordered on saving the university system from collapse and institutionalising global standard practices of knowledge culturing, spanning 2001 till date.

Prof. Awuzie said: “The government has abandoned the main tenet of industrial democracy- that all agreements freely entered into must be honoured. “NEC (of ASUU), having noted that the Federal Government neglected, ignored, failed and refused to implement the core components of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, after more than two years of its signing, having squandered two months it requested without achieving any progress in the implementation of the agreement, having sacked the Implementation Monitoring Committee that served as the forum for dialogue with ASUU on this dispute, is convinced that the government is terribly insincere and is manifestly unwilling to genuinely implement the agreement it freely entered into with ASUU.
“ASUU resolved, painfully, to direct all members  in all branches nationwide to proceed on a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike, beginning from the midnight of Sunday, 4th December, 2011.
“For the avoidance of doubt, a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike means: no teaching, no examinations, no grading of scripts, no project supervision, no inaugural lectures, no appointment and promotion meetings, no statutory meetings (Council, Senate, Board etc.) or other meetings directed by government or their agents.”
Awuzie said accelerating the development of the university system to become internationally competitive could no longer be delayed, in view of the Vision 20: 2020 goals.
He described the ongoing institutional accreditation embarked upon by the Federal Government as an absurdity, noting that the exercise is deceptive. It is to encourage university administrators to pretend that all is well with the system, he said.
Awuzie noted that the Federal Government’s allocation to education is an average of eight per cent of the country’s annual budget, contrary to the 30 per cent of total annual budget of countries like South Africa and Ghana.
He lamented that the best university in Nigeria is not among the first 6,000 in the world.
Awuzie expressed displeasure over what he described as the taking over of Nigeria’s economy and other sectors by foreign interests.
He alleged that the economic team is a representative of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
To the ASUU president, the ruling class has failed, for being unable to provide jobs, education, healthcare, affordable transportation and roads, among others, and being incapable of uniting the people.
Awuzie noted that the Jonathan administration is unable to protect Nigerians from hunger, robbery, murder of innocent citizens and insecurity. 
The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has asked the Federal Government to urgently honour its agreement with ASUU.
ANPP National Chairman Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the situation should not be allowed to continue as it will pose serious challenges to the nation’s educational system if not resolved.                   
Speaking at the inauguration of a 10-man committee, led by Senator Kabiru Gaya, for the building of the party’s national secretariat, Onu criticised what he called the Federal Government’s lack of commitment to education.
Onu said: “We urge the Federal Government to return to the negotiation table with ASUU and ensure that their demands are met so that the quality of education in the universities would be enhanced. Education remains a vital instrument for sustainable development.”
Labour Minister Emeka Wogu said government is unaware of the strike proposal.
According to him, the last meeting the government held with Labour agreed on an adjournment for Wednesday.
“We are not aware of the strike plan,” he said.