The Nigerian Senate has mandated its President, Bukola Saraki, to personally lead the intervention towards resolving the brewing industrial crisis between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The Senate resolved to muster efforts at stopping a protracted ASUU strike on Tuesday, barely 24 hours after the Union announced one-week warning strike, starting tomorrow.
The Senate resolution followed a motion on “matter of urgent national importance” with regards to the planned ASUU industrial action by Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano).
The warning strike, ASUU said, is over the failure of the Federal Government to implement terms of the 2009 and 2013 agreements.
“Many aspects of the 2013 MoU and the 2009 agreement with the Federal Government have either been unimplemented or despairingly handled,” ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said at the University of Abuja on Monday.
“The agreements are: Payments of staff entitlements since December 2015, funding of universities for revitalisation, pension, TSA and university autonomy and renegotiation of 2009 Agreement.”
Backing ASUU in his motion, Mr. Barau argued that ASUU was agitating for smooth running of Nigerian public universities and staff welfare which basically formed the terms of the agreements perfunctorily implemented – or not implemented at all – by the Federal Government.
In his contribution, Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe), lamented plights of students of public universities whenever lecturers embark on strike, thereby calling for avoidance of ASUU strike.
In 2013, students in all Nigerian public universities, except University of Ilorin, were not in their schools for six months following that year’s ASUU strike.
As a “stabilising arm”, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume said, the Senate should immediately intervene.
This was echoed by Emmanuel Paulker (PDP-Bayelsa) who added that the Senate a should “do all within its powers to totally” stop ASUU strike.
He said the Federal Government should reach for a middle point with respect to ASUU’s demand that universities be removed from TSA implementation.
Said ASUU President, Mr. Ogunyemi, “With the introduction of TSA, the federal universities find it extremely difficult to discharge their core responsibilities of teaching, research and community services.”
Besides the resolution that Mr. Saraki lead intervention efforts, the Senate also commended the lecturers for choosing dialogue over confrontation in pressing for implementation of the agreements with the government; and resolved to ensure improved funding for education in the 2017 budget.
ASUU had “wondered aloud why allocation to education dropped from 11 per cent in 2015 to eight per cent in 2016.”
Mr. Saraki promised prompt intervention.