August 29, 2009
ASUU, SSANU, NASU vow to continue strike
By Sanni Ologun
The three unions in the nation’s universities yesterday said the bond between them could not be weakened and vowed to continue their strike until the Federal Government returns to the negotiating table.
The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie at a joint press conference with the Acting President of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities (SSANU), Comrade Bala Gadanga Sokoto and the National President of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU), Comrade Ladi Iliya at the Labour House in Abuja said it was untrue that it was only ASUU that was on strike.
Awuzie said the decision of the Federal Government negotiating team led by Deacon Gamaliel Onosode, to pull out of the negotiations with the Unions show that the Federal Government was the one on strike.
He said he had never seen a situation where an employer abandons the negotiating table instead of the employees.
He said the stance of the Federal Government that it cannot sign an agreement on behalf of the state governments was not tenable as the National Universities Commissions (NUC), which is an organ of the Federal Government superintends over all universities in Nigeria whether state or federal.
He added that the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), another Federal Government body, also conducts admissions into the university system with one set of requirements.
According to Awuzie, “The state universities would, however, be guided by the minimum standards set in the agreement if they are to operate within the goals of achieving the same standards for Nigerian university system.”
He urged the Federal Government to return to the negotiating table and make whatever offer they want to make instead of just awarding 40 per cent and other salary increases to the three unions on the air.
He lamented the attitude of government over the current face-off, saying it was devoid of trust and transparency.
Awuzie said: “The attitude of government and its officials leaves little room for trust, transparency and honour on their part. It is unfortunate that the NUC, ETF (Education Trust Fund) Secretaries, who were part of the negotiations and meetings even with the Vice President, were being economical with the truth, instead created a ‘stop gap’ mischief, aiding and abetting the collapse of the negotiation.
“Unfortunately too, this is happening under a Minister of Education, who seems not to have appreciated the schedule of his duties, and was hence hijacked by bureaucrats who provided him executive briefs tailored towards bringing him to ridicule.”
He said the unions rejected the unilateral awards of 40, 20, and 20 per cent salary increase to ASUU, SSANU and NASU respectively, because it was not product of collective bargaining.
He added that the unions “frown at this attempt by government to divide the unions and instigate parity war on our campuses. The only solution to this crisis is that government should conclude and sign the agreements it willingly reached with the respective unions as this will be the only path to industrial harmony.
“The three unions want to empathize with our students nationwide, they should, and we believe many of them do, understand that this struggle is to ensure that the university system in Nigeria is raised to the standard befitting of our dear country. As such, it is actually their struggle. Together, we can make sure that government does what is right.”