The Federal Government of Nigeria has claimed that it has so far met about 80 per cent of the demands made by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
While reacting to the indefinite extension of the strike embarked upon by the lecturers since February 2022, the Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Bem Goong, on Monday, stressed that the federal government had deployed all measures to end the strike.
He said, “If you bring some demands and almost 80 per cent have been attended to, there is no need to drag the strike anymore.
“It is unreasonable for the strike to be lingering since the government has worked towards fulfilling most of the demands.
“As regards the next steps, the government has already inaugurated a committee to harmonize the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System, IPPS.”
Was it the first time FG would claim to have met ASUU’s demands?
Just recently during a media briefing, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, also claimed that all issues with the union had been resolved except the payment of their salaries.
He said, “All contentious issues between the government and ASUU had been settled except the quest for members’ salaries for the period of the strike to be paid, a demand that President Buhari has flatly rejected.”
Also, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and his state counterpart, Festus Keyamo, had also claimed that the federal government had done all within its powers to end the strike.
According to Ngige, the government has dealt with most of ASUU’s demands, adding
“that is why I was shocked they went on strike.”
Featuring on a programme on Channels Television, Keyamo noted that the government had done its best and appealed to parents to “beg” ASUU.
“You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you by the jugular and then blackmail you to go and borrow N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be about N6.1 trillion. And you have roads to build, health centres to build, other sectors to take care of,” he said.
From 1999 till date, ASUU had embarked on strike for a record 16 times. These are, 1999 (5 months), 2001 (3 months), 2002 (2 weeks), 2003 (6 months), 2005 (2 weeks), 2006 (3 days), 2007 (3 months), 2008 (1 week), 2009 (4 months), 2010 (5 months), 2011 (59 days), 2013 (5 months), 2017 (1 month), 2018 (3 months), 2020 (9 months), and 2022 (February 14 – present).
What are the demands?
A look at FG’s obligations as spelt out in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) it signed with ASUU on 23rd December 2020 revealed that the issues which led to the incessant strikes was a call by the university union on government to conclude the process of renegotiating the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deploy the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), pay outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), release agreed sum of money for the revitalization of public universities (federal and states), address proliferation and governance issues in the state universities, settle promotion arrears, release withheld salaries of academics, and pay outstanding third-party deductions.
The federal government had in March this year inaugurated a seven-person committee chaired by Pro-Chancellor, Alex Ekweme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs.
The committee which was given a 3-month time frame to conclude its assignment was tasked with the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement reached with ASUU.
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu to resolve the strike and report back to him. Up till now, there has been no record of a fruitful meeting between Adamu and ASUU.
The government had reportedly approved 35 per cent increase in salary for professors and 23.5 per cent increase for other lecturers – a decision rejected by the union.
Demands not yet met – ASUU
Rising from the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of ASUU held on Monday in Abuja, the union’s president, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, in a press release, said council members concluded to proceed on an indefinite strike over government’s refusal to honour agreements reached with the union.
He said, “For the avoidance of doubt, however, none of the issues that forced our Union to resume the suspended strike as listed in the December 2020 FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) has been satisfactorily addressed by the government to date. The draft renegotiated FGN-ASUU Agreement (second draft) remains unsigned; the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) has not been adopted and deployed to replace the discredited Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS); and the White Papers on Visitation Panels to Federal Universities, if ready as claimed by Government more than six months ago, are nowhere to be found.
“Similarly, government has not delivered on the promised balance of one tranche of the Revitalization Fund more than one year after, the outstanding two tranches of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) have not been released; and nothing has since happened on the promised support for amendment to the Law of the National Universities Commission (NUC) to stem the tide of proliferation of universities especially by the State Governments.”
Though Prof Nimi Briggs-led committee had concluded its work and submitted a report to the government for action, there is however no evidence that the report has been signed and implemented.
Also, considering the magnitude of issues that led to the ASUU strikes, Daily Trust can confirm that the claim by FG that it had met 80 per cent of ASUU’s demands is misleading. Reports attest to the fact that the issues had been largely unaddressed.
Did ASUU threaten to stop negotiation with Buhari gov’t?
Meanwhile, another claim making the rounds on social media suggests that ASUU has said it will no longer engage in further negotiations with the federal government unless a new government comes into power in 2023.
The twitter screenshot via the handle, @ASUU_NIG_ on 30th August reads: “JUST IN: ASUU STRIKE UPDATE.
“We’ll no longer engage in any negotiation with buhari led administration again until a new GOVT comes into power in 2023 – ASUU,” it read.
The post which was replicated on Facebook by a user, Pqconnect had garnered over 400 reactions, 160 comments and 42 shares as of the time of filing this report.
Perusing all posts made via the handle, @ASUU_NIG_, there was no record of the tweet as displayed in the screenshot.
Instead, the only tweet made on the same day that bears semblance with the viral post suggested that no National Executive Council (NEC) meetings of the union will be convened until FG meets itss demands.
The post reads: “ASUU STRIKE UPDATE!! No more ASUU NEC meeting anymore except there’s an urgency that would warrant it and that’s if FG meets ASUU demands.”
Having found that the viral post did not emanate from ASUU and was manipulated to create the impression that the union doesn’t want to dialogue with the Buhari administration anymore, Daily Trust can confirm that the claim of ASUU waiting till 2023 to continue negotiations is false.
This fact check report was produced in partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD)