Nigerians Heave a Sigh of Relief as ASUU Suspends Strike

Nigerians Heave a Sigh of Relief as ASUU Suspends Strike

…Strike Must Never Happen Again- Gbajabiamila It was an admixture of relief, jubilation, and bewilderment by many Nigerians as they woke up to an early morning news on Friday that the Academic Staff Union of Universities 9 (ASUU) has called suspended its eight-months old strike, which had paralysed education in several universities in the country.

…Strike Must Never Happen Again- Gbajabiamila

It was an admixture of relief, jubilation, and bewilderment by many Nigerians as they woke up to an early morning news on Friday that the Academic Staff Union of Universities 9 (ASUU) has called suspended its eight-months old strike, which had paralysed education in several universities in the country.

The strike, the second longest ever by ASUU has been a source of tension in the polity. The longest strike action by the union lasted nine months between March and December 2020.

The suspension which ASUU says its conditional was in obedience to a Court of Appeal order that the union must obey the order of the National Industrial Court before listening to its appeal against the judgement. The pattern of the suspension is like the language used in 2020 which means that the union still leaves open the option of fine in the nearest future.

ASUU’s strike action started as a four-week industrial action to push for better funding of universities as well as improved welfare for its members based on several agreements reached with the government since 2009.

ASUU was able to place on the front burner request for funds for the revitalisation of the universities to bring them up to standard, the payment of earned academic allowances to members, and the release of whitepapers from the reports of the presidential visitation panels. It also demanded the usage of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university workers as against the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Following the Federal Government and ASUU’s inability to reach a deal, the union kept extending the industrial action before making it indefinite in August 2022.

A single-parent mother, Mrs Bamishe Ojo, who has two children in two different universities said the news of the strike suspension is the best news of the year because “it is like taking a big burden off me. Throughout the strike I was paying for the rented apartments where my children stayed off campus even when the students were staying with me at home”

A student of the University of Benin, Miss Priscilla Utomi, who had been engaged by a telecoms company while the strike lasted, said though it is good news but would not be returning to school until November because she wants to collect her full month salary for the month of October.

Below is the full text of a statement released by ASUU suspending its strike:

ASUU SUSPENDS ITS STRIKE ACTION

1. The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja, on Thursday, 13th October, 2022. The meeting reviewed developments since the Union declared an indefinite strike action on 29th August, 2022.

2. During the intervening period, the Minister of Labour and Employment, through a referral, approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) for the interpretation of “the provision of sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, whether the on-going prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which started since 14th February, 2022 is legal even after statutory apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment?” In addition, he asked for an interlocutory order against the continuation of the strike.

3. The National Industrial Court in its wisdom gave an order compelling ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the substantive suit. Given the nature of the order, and in the opinion of our counsel, there was the need to appeal the interlocutory injunction granted against our Union at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal acknowledged the validity of the grounds of the Union’s appeal but still upheld the order of the lower court and ordered our Union to comply with the ruling of the lower court as condition precedent for the appeal to be heard.

4. NEC noted the series of meetings with the leadership of the House of Representatives led by the Hon. Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as intervention efforts of other well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside government and the progress made so far.

5. NEC deliberated on the recommendations of the Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila-led Committee within the framework of the FGN/ASUU’s Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2020 on the contending issues that led to the strike action. For
the avoidance of doubt, the issues include:
• Funding for Revitalisation of public universities
• Earned Academic Allowances
• Proliferation of public Universities
• Visitation Panels/Release of White Papers
• University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a broad-spectrum software to stop illegality and provide for an alternative payment platform in the university system.
• Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement

6. While appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed.

7. However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022. Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14th October, 2022.
Thank you.
Emmanuel Osodeke President

ASUU Strike Must Never Happen Again – Gbajabiamila

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that all hands must be on deck to ensure academic strikes in universities become a thing of the past.

The Speaker made the comment in a statement welcoming the end of an eight-month long strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

His statement in full: “I am pleased by the decision by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend their ongoing strike action. This decision is the right call as it allows students at public universities in the country to resume their academic activities.

“I thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammdu Buhari, GCFR; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha; Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu; Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige; Professor Emmanuel Osodeke and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for working to resolve the issues that necessitated the strike action.

“I also appreciate my colleagues in the House of Representatives for the decision to intervene in negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). I am confident that the House will endeavour to ensure that the Federal Government keeps its commitments to the union and universities.

“It is regrettable that this strike action happened in the first place. It is even more unfortunate that it lasted as long as it did. We must make sure it never happens again. Our public universities should be citadels of learning and innovation, where young people discover themselves and reach for the stars. That is not now the case. Changing that requires that we admit certain harsh truths and take radical action.

“The suspension of this strike does not mean all the issues of funding, education standard, and student and staff welfare have been resolved. Therefore, we must not rest on our oars. Instead, let this be a call to action for the government, universities, unions, and citizens to begin the critical conversation about the future of public tertiary education in the country. I assure you that this is an objective the House of Representatives will pursue with dedication and determination.

“I wish our young people Godspeed as they return to school. I encourage them to ensure that the disruption to the academic calendar does not deter them from pursuing their ambitions and achieving their best dreams. May God bless and keep you, and God bless our Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Ayo Aluko-Olokun
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