The federal government has been accused of lying by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on an agreement being reached on strike suspension date.
ASUU’s National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi who countered the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on a claim of the union promising to resume on December 9, 2020, stated that there is nothing in the government offer of November 27, 2020, to suggest that conclusion.
Ogunyemi reiterated that there will be no need for strikes if the government implemented the agreement they reached and further averred that the principal officers and trustees who constituted the core of representatives of ASUU at negotiation meetings with government, were not constitutionally empowered to suspend any strike action.
“ASUU leadership did not reach any understanding with government to suspend the strike on December 9, 2020, and there is nothing in the government offer of November 27, 2020 to suggest that conclusion as allegedly claimed by the Minister of Labour and Employment.
“At our last meeting in the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment on November 27, 2020, the ASUU leadership promised to faithfully present the latest government offer to its members through the established tradition.
“The latest offer by government makes proposals on nearly all items of demand by the union with timelines. Among others, the document which was signed by the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, contains proposals on inauguration of the reconstituted FGN-ASUU Renegotiation Committee (1st December, 2020); release of details about Visitation Panels (1st December, 2020); working on the actualisation of the release of the withheld salaries of ASUU members (Wednesday, December 9, 2020).
“Clause 9 on the document reads, ‘Based on these conclusions reached on items 1-8, ASUU’s leadership will consult its organs with a view to suspending the ongoing strike.
“Whatever comes out of an engagement with agents of the government is an offer which must be taken back to the branches through the various organs of the union. Views and perspectives on offers by governments are aggregated and presented to government agents as counter-offers.
“This trade union strategy of offer and counter-offer is continually deployed until the National Executive Council (NEC) of ASUU – consisting of all recognised chairpersons – finally approves what it considers an acceptable offer from the government. It is only then that any strike action by ASUU can be suspended.
“It was a needless crisis in the first place. It happened because government has consistently failed to faithfully implement the agreements it freely signed with the union.
“ASUU members, as stakeholders in the Nigerian university system, are equally worried and embarrassed that those in position of authority, over the years, displayed seeming indifference to the rot and decay in Nigeria’s public universities.
“We think it is not too late to do a rethink; we believe if there is the will, there will be a way.”