The union of Nigerian lecturers has accused the Nigerian government of blackmail and forcing lecturers back to class for fear of a second wave of the #EndSARS protests.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is on an 8-month industrial action after embarking on an indefinite strike in March.
ASUU says the strike may last for years if the federal government refuses to holistically honour its agreement with the union.
ASUU is accusing government of failing to keep to a 2009 agreement, the Memorandum of Understanding in 2013 and the Memorandum of Actions signed in 2017 and 2019.
The union noted that unlike in the past, it has resolved to remain on strike until the Nigerian government reaches concrete terms with respect to implementing the agreements.
The union had brought forward five contentious issues in the 2019 MoA which are; revitalization fund for universities, outstanding earned academic allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, proliferation of universities, particularly by state governments, and establishment of visitation panels to universities.
Speaking at a Press Conference at the ASUU Secretariat within the Obafemi Awolowo University Campus on Friday, the Coordinator ASUU, Akure Zone, Professor Olu Olufayo said the federal government’s narrative that the union was on strike because of its rejection of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) is an attempt to blackmail it.
The union has also asked the federal government to declare emergency in the education sector, shut public universities for a period within which the government would fix universities across the country to ensure proper and effective training, research and community development.
“It is unfortunate that the government in the country does not care the quality of education available for the children of ordinary Nigerians since their children school abroad, hence, their refusal to honour the various agreements reached with ASUU for almost eleven years,” Prof. Olufayo noted.
He added that “we have also resolved to remain on strike for as long as possible to ensure that the FG commit to the agreement and take concrete steps towards ensuring quality public university education in the country.
“We have told the FG to declare a state of emergency in the education sector, shut the schools for two or even five years within which it can fix the problem in the sector and ensure quality education in the country.
“It is surprising that it took the Federal Government the EndSARS protest to call the union back to the negotiation table despite the long period of break imposed by the pandemic. Government believes if the youths were in the classroom, the protest could have been curtailed or minimised.
He stated that moves were ongoing to end the strike action, adding that the ministers involved and the ASUU leadership were still working towards resolving the matter amicably.