For the umpteenth time, the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will Tuesday be meeting the representatives of the Nigerian government to possibly conclude talks on the renegotiated 2009 agreement, among other issues..
Speaking on Channels Television’s “Politics Today” on Monday, ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, said the University Transparency and Accountability Transparency (UTAS) has also been cleared for use by the government to replace the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
ASUU had developed UTAS over complaint that the IPPIS deployed by the government for the payment of university workers’ emoluments failed to recognise the peculiarities of the university system, and that it is full of errors.
Mr Osodeke said; “The issue of IPPIS and UTAS have been put to rest because the test has been done. As agreed by the Chief of Staff (to President Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari), UTAS will be implemented to cover all the universities,
“If we go to that meeting tomorrow and the government says they are willing to sign what we negotiated, it’s fine.”
PREMIUM TIMES had also reported that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, will speak about the state of negotiations with the striking university workers on Thursday.
The renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the replacement of IPPIS with UTAS are the major demands of the striking lecturers.
The renegotiation of the 2009 agreement earlier concluded in May 2021 was not implemented by the government, but another renegotiated committee led by Nimi Briggs, an Emeritus Professor, was set up to renegotiate the agreement.
Mr Briggs-led committee has submitted a draft agreement to the government but the Ministry of Labour and Employment accused ASUU of fixing its salaries and entitlements in the draft, an allegation ASUU has denied.
ASUU President said the contents of the draft agreement was proposed by the government.
ASUU is also demanding the release of white paper of the presidential visitation panels to universities and a halt to the proliferation of universities, especially by the state governments.
ASUU rejects FG’s ‘no fund’ claim
Meanwhile, the striking union has dismissed the government’s claim of lack of funds for the universities, saying the government only lacked the will to fund the system.
Mr Osodeke said; “If you have a will and believe education is important, the government will raise any amount. This is the government that has spent N400 billion naira on trader moni. This is the government that said –while we are on strike– it used N200 billion to feed school children. That’s more than the revitalisation fund we are asking for.”
He recalled that the union had in 2018, made recommendations to the government regarding the sourcing of funds for university education.
He said part of the union’s recommendations to the government was the recent GSM tax the finance ministry allegedly plans to introduce.
On private universities
Mr Osodeke, a professor, said the rise of private educational institutions have ‘bastardised’ Nigeria’s education system.
He said the UTME cut off points for universities used to be at least 180.
He said: “When things were working well in the public primary and secondary schools, JAMB never get a cut off point of less than 180 to 200. Today, they are giving 120, because the private people have bastardised the secondary and primary school. People cannot pass again to enter university. So they will now take people who failed JAMB to private universities.”
ASUU commenced the nationwide industrial action on 14 February and has continued to extend it as there was no agreement with the government.
On 1 August, ASUU announced another extension of the strike by another four weeks.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe