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.