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ASUU calls off Strike

The National Executive Council of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called off its five-month old strike.

The strike was suspended after the NEC met at the campus of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State today.

The suspension of the strike followed the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the federal government and leadership of ASUU last Wednesday.

National President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge Isa had last week told journalists that the union would consult with its National Executive Council and will within one week intimate Nigerians of its decision on the strike.

Dr. Nasir Fagge Isa, ASUU President
Dr. Nasir Fagge Isa, ASUU President

He was optimistic that the outcome of the consultation will be positive. The MoU addressed all the recent demands of ASUU as well resolutions agreed to between it and government in the November 4 marathon meeting with President Jonathan. These include a non-victimisation clause, provision and deposit of N200 billion infrastructure revitalisation funds in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, details of disbursement of the funds and payment of salary arrears which has accrued to the teachers during the strike.

ASUU members have been on strike since 1 July demanding full implementation of
the 2009 agreement reached with the Federal Government on conditions of service for university lecturers, funding of infrastructural development in Nigerian universities.

In the 2009 agreement, both parties had agreed that each federal university should get at least N1.5 trillion between 2009 and 2011 while state universities, within the same period, should receive N3.6 million per student. The Federal Government had insisted that the agreement was signed in error and that it has no money to fund it.

After a marathon meeting on 4 November, government made a new offer of a yearly expenditure of N220 billion over the next five years for the upgrade of infrastructure across Nigeria universities. It was agreed that the funds will be domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria to be released on a quarterly basis to the higher institutions as a further assurance that government will keep to its side of the bargain.

Though most chapters of the ASUU had voted to call off the strike following the new deal from government, they had insisted that the fund must be deposited in the CBN, payment of their salary arrears during the five months strike as well as a non victimisation clause to protect lecturers from being victimised as a result of their participation in the strike.

But the acting Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, had termed the demands by the lecturers as outrageous, with threats that they will be sacked if they did not return to work by 4 December, an ultimatum which was later shifted to 9 December. Government had also insisted that it deposited N200 billion being demanded for by the Union in an account at the CBN.

The lecturers however shunned the government’s order and most classrooms were still empty at the expiration of the ultimatum last Monday. Later, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs presented evidence to journalists that government has deposited the contentious N200 billion in a Special Universities Revitalization Account domiciled with the CBN as demanded by the lecturers.

It was gathered that last Wednesday’s agreement was brokered by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress.

But the agreement is due for renegotiation in 2014 and Nigerians can only wish that the negotiation will not lead to another long closure of campuses.

Source: PM News

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