The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has threatened to commence a fresh industrial action following the purported inability of the Federal Government to fulfil the terms of the agreement it signed with the lecturers seven months ago.
Dr. Ibrahim Inuwa, Chairman of the ASUU branch at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ABTU), disclosed this while speaking with select journalists at the Union’s secretariat over the weekend.
ASUU had gone on strike in March 2020 following its disagreement with the Federal Government on several issues such as the funding of the universities and the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and was only called off after the union signed an agreement with the government in December 2020.
But speaking on the implementation of the agreement, Inuwa stated that only two out of the eight issues have been addressed since the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Union and the Federal Government was signed seven months ago.
According to him, only salary shortfall and visitation panels to federal universities have been addressed.
He said the issues yet to be resolved are Earned Academic Allowance, Funding for the revitalisation of public universities, Renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, Replacement of the IPPIS system with its preferred University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), withheld salaries and non-remittance of Check-off Dues.
He said: “Renegotiation of the 2009 agreement which would have been completed within eight weeks from the date of inauguration of the committee has up till now not been concluded, even though the Committee was inaugurated since December 2020.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria willingly agreed that the UTAS will replace the IPPIS as a payment platform in Federal Universities after it passed an integrity test. However, soon after the agreement, agents of the FGN are doing everything possible to frustrate the coming of UTAS onboard.
“Meanwhile the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation through the IPPIS office have continued to omit our members from payment of salaries while others experience serious salary amputation. We are convinced this is done in connivance with the University Administration through the distortion of our members’ personal details.
“In the meantime, IPPIS appears to be the corruption headquarters of the Federal Civil service, as exemplified by double payment of salaries to employees, payment of salaries to non-employees, over taxation, dubious amputation of salaries, etc.”
Inuwa stated that the body language of the Federal Government on the proliferation of state universities shows that they are not willing to put a stop to it stressing that instead, the federal government itself has joined in the Proliferation of Universities ignoring the obvious challenges of funding.
He further stated that it is obvious to the Union that the OAGF is deliberately omitting its members from payment of Salaries and withholding check-off dues as a ploy for victimization and coercion to enrol ASUU members into IPPIs.
He said: “This plague has been evident across all Federal Universities in Nigeria since February 2020. This to us is an outright act of ingratitude on the part of the Government for the sacrifices members of ASUU are making in order to establish a progressive nation. A clear case of punishing citizens for being patriotic.”
Inuwa declared that “Enough is enough. ASUU is fed up with the alleged deceptive antics of the Federal Government.
He said: “The University Campuses are becoming restive across the length and breadth as Academics are threatening to shut down activities once again. This is coming as a result of the failure of the FGN to implement many aspects of the memorandum of Action it willingly signed with ASUU that ended the last strike in December 2020.
“Given the glaring and deliberate failure of Government to honour the agreement it willingly signed with the Union, it is becoming obvious that industrial harmony is gradually being destroyed in the university campuses.
“We, therefore, call on well-meaning Nigerians to wake up the FGN from its slumber to avoid another disruption of academic activities on Universities Campuses across the nation”, adding that “the atmosphere is tensed and charged”.