NLC Seeks High-powered Panel to Resolve FG-ASUU Crisis Within 21 Days

As concerns mount over continued closure of government-owned universities nationwide as a result of the strike embarked upon the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the federal government to immediately set up a committee whose target would be to address grievances of the university workers with a view to ending the 59-day old strike.

Arising from a meeting with the unions in the universities in Abuja, the NLC said it’s concern was the litany of agreements that government had failed to implement.

In the communiqué jointly signed by NLC president, Ayuba Wabba and General Secretary, Emma Ugboaja, the congress stated: “In the light of the foregoing concerns, the meeting resolved to call on the federal government to immediately set up a high-powered panel constituted of members with requisite mandates to resolve within 21 days the foregoing issues militating against industrial harmony in Nigeria’s university system.

“Pursuant to the foregoing resolution, the NLC would be convening a special meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of all the affiliate unions of the congress to decide on the next line of action.”

Meanwhile, non-teaching staff of universities have resolved to extend their ongoing warning strike, by another two weeks.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, the chairman of the Joint Action Committee of the non-academic staff of universities, Mr. Adeyemi Peters said the unions were displeased by the government’s inaction concerning the workers’ demands despite several reminders.

He listed a catalogue of grievances bothering on the welfare and funding of the universities, including the arrears of earned allowances,

“It was at the end of all these reminders with no acknowledgement by the government that we were left with no other resort but to embark on a two weeks warning strike.

“Prior to the strike, due process was duly followed and the notice were issued in line with the extant laws. Shamefully and painfully, there was no attempt by the government to intercept or even invite the unions to a meeting.

“This aloof and contemptuous attitude of government further incensed our members who resolved that following the failure of government to even invite the leaderships for a meeting, the strike should be extended by another two weeks before an indefinite and total strike is declared.

“As at today, the two weeks extension is getting to the middle and with no response in sight from government, we may be left with no resort but to embark on an indefinite and total strike. This is gradually becoming unavoidable and inevitable,” he said.

He said the unions were being left with no choice than to call on well-meaning Nigerians and stakeholders in the university system to prevail on government to honour the agreement it freely entered into with the Joint Action Committee of Non Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and Senior Staff Union of Universities (SSANU) in order to avoid a total breakdown of industrial harmony in the Nigeria Universities and Inter-University Centres.

Some of the grievances for which the workers have proceeded on strike include: Non-Payment of Earned Allowances;

Non-Payment of Arrears of national minimum Wage and its Consequential adjustment; Poor funding of state universities;

delay in renegotiation of the 2009 Agreements; non release of White Papers of Visitation panels; among others.

Meanwhile, ASUU has called on the federal government to scrap the National Information Development Agency (NITDA) over its failure to implement the union’s University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).

The Sokoto Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Jamilu Shehu, while addressing journalists in Katsina yesterday, said the agency should be disbanded with immediate effect.

The Sokoto Zonal office of ASUU comprises Umaru Musa Yar’Adua University, Katsina; Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto; Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero; Sokoto State University, Sokoto, and Federal University, Dutsinma.

He reiterated that NITDA had violated its basic mandate of seeing to the birth of the union’s homegrown software and its deployment in the nation’s public universities.

He added that the failure of the federal government’s agency to accept UTAS revealed that it lacks capacity and drive to deliver its mandate, “and is incapable of promoting homegrown solutions.”

Shehu said: “It also shows that the agency’s usefulness cannot be ascertained and ASUU calls on the federal government to scrap it with immediate effect or in the least reconstitute it with more clear and cogent mandates.”

According to him, for UTAS to score 99.3 per cent during the test run assessment, was good enough to warrant an issuance of certificate of compliance.

The ASUU zonal coordinator urged Nigerians to disregard what he described as unjustifiable propaganda by NITDA on the status of UTAS integrity test.