It was all hailing when management of the Home of Representatives opted to wade into one more lengthy strike motion launched into by the Tutorial Employees Union of Universities (ASUU), a transfer which subsequently noticed the months-long strike known as off. Latest developments has, nevertheless, proven that every one was not properly with the phrases on which the deal was struck. JOSHUA EGBODO writes
When the newest strike embarked upon by the Tutorial Employees Union of Universities (ASUU), was surprisingly going past the anticipated interval; from a couple of weeks warning motion to months operating, the Home of Representatives via members’ mandate to its management opted to intervene.
Unyielding authorities stance
To many who may recall the then prevailing scenario, the federal authorities of their opinion appeared very unyielding in dealing with the scenario, even when the Home of Representatives made sensible transfer in tune with its resolve to finish the strike.
From the Minister of Training, Mallam Adamu Adamu and his Labour and Productiveness counterpart, Dr. Chris Ngige have been public threats towards the college lecturers of ‘no work, no pay’ coverage implementation. The identical was, subsequently, to turn into a later a part of the preliminary points that precipitated the strike motion.
One other worrisome concern within the notion of analysts was the try by the federal authorities to Balkanise the ASUU, because it via the labour ministry, provided licence to a parallel union of lecturers below the aegis of Congress of Nigerian College Lecturers (CONUA). Although a second Union was additionally authorised identical time, however was not too related to the threatening ASUU strike.
The federal government was later to win a case instituted on the Nationwide Industrial Courtroom towards the union. ASUU misplaced on the appellate courtroom, because the union was directed to droop the strike as precondition for its attraction to be heard.
All these occurred whereas efforts of the Home of Representatives, championed by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila nonetheless persevered.
The important thing points
ASUU in its renewed agitations had pushed ahead calls for for the speedy signing of the Renegotiated 2009 Settlement, a brand new wage construction that may enable a professor at bar to earn N1,116,548.35 month-to-month, cost of arrears of Earned Tutorial Allowance, and launch of presidency white paper on the 2021 visitation panels report back to federal universities.
Different calls for on the listing included a name on the Home to by intervention, introduce a invoice to assist the Nationwide Universities Fee (NUC), to cease proliferation of universities, particularly, by state governors, the deployment of the College Transparency and Accountability Resolution (UTAS), its self developed cost platform for its members and different college workers as towards the Built-in Personnel Payroll Data system (IPPIS) in use by the federal authorities.
Reps in motion
The primary leg of the strike noticed Speaker Gbajabiamila in search of to know what the problems have been, and that intervention was someday about November 2021, when he engaged ASUU and the Minister of Finance amongst different stakeholders. The efforts yielded a brief reprieve, which was short-lived because the college lecturers have been again to the trenches in February 2022.
On the inaugural assembly for the brand new transfer held on September 29, 2022 on the occasion of Speaker Gbajabiamila, ASUU accused the Federal Authorities of Nigeria of choosing punishment of its members, slightly than addressing the problems that precipitated the strike, which on the time was about seven months outdated.
Nationwide President of the union, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke on the assembly additionally accused the Minister of Training, Mallam Adamu Adamu, of by no means making an attempt to carry any formal assembly with the union because the strike started in February, however was fast to direct the stoppage of lecturers’ salaries.
He stated if the trouble at coercing the putting lecturers, via a courtroom course of again into courses succeeds in any manner, “what sort of instructing will they do? It’s like forcing a medical physician to go and deal with a affected person”, and added that it was misguided to see the strike as the issue, as a result of if the strike is named off with out addressing the problems, the colleges will turn into like public major faculties. “As a substitute of fixing the issue, we’re being punished”, he said.
Speaker Gbajabiamila who convened the assembly, and was in attendance along with his deputy, Idris Wase and several other members of the Home, had earlier posited that it was not time to beat concerning the points, however discovering options.
“We’re not right here to rehearse the issues. We’re to not be asking what occurred, or why are we the place we’re? Everyone knows the problems, and now we have to resolve the problems as soon as and for all, for our youngsters to return to courses”, the Speaker famous on the assembly. He continued in the middle of the day’s engagement, saying “My curiosity of dialog is with the ASUU. Most individuals are with you. We’re with you”.
Minister of State for Training, Goodluck Opiah, who defined that Mallam Adamu was outdoors the nation for a UN Training Summit in New York, stated a great variety of measures have been adopted in the direction of addressing the problems with out success, together with President Buhari, who in a few week earlier granted viewers to committee of Vice Chancellors, throughout which it was resolved to make additional consultations. Gbajabiamila subsequently known as a closed door session for continuation of the assembly. Extra conferences in observe up have been held at completely different dates.
Withheld salaries as recent challenge
In one of many steady engagements, particularly on October 10, 2022, Gbajabiamila got here out and gave assurance that the ASUU strike will finish quickly, and famous that one in every of remaining unresolved points for the time being was the withheld salaries of the lecturers for the interval the strike lasted. At the moment, the motion had already been on for eight months.
“This can be a recap to seal the deal on what has been a long-fought battle, lengthy arduous highway for everyone each for ASUU the scholars and the federal government. As you’ll recall, some weeks in the past the Home received concerned on this disaster and we had lengthy, powerful, intense conferences with ASUU. We had conferences with these on the federal government facet and we’re comfortable to report that as the results of the session and intervention of the Home, very important progress has been made and we’re kind of on the finish of the highway, save for dotting some ‘i’s and crossing some ‘t’s.
“We agreed with ASUU and the federal government on sure issues which we took to Mr President. I’ve visited the President twice. First time we made our suggestions with the federal government shifting some and ASUU shifting some…
“There was one sticking challenge which was the difficulty of no work no pay. And the President did ask that he would recommend the suggestions and would have yet another assembly which we did on Friday after the funds.
“That assembly was even higher than the primary one we had with him, and Mr President had agreed to settle issues. I’m not going to speak about that now, and that he would disclose no matter it’s tomorrow, Tuesday which is tomorrow (October 11), on that one the rest challenge. However past that, the opposite a number of points have been taken care of. We have been in a position to make it possible for what ASUU was asking for by way of revitalisation, wage, that there was important enchancment, revitalisation has been supplied for within the funds. We made positive of that….”, he stated.
After a courtroom ruling directing ASUU to droop the strike, the union met and introduced its plan to droop the strike. Gbajabiamila had earlier after one the newest conferences careworn that “As soon as that’s agreed, I’m very hopeful and really excited concerning the chance or likelihood the strike can be known as off in a matter of days”.
However ASUU’s deception allegation
After suspension of the strike, ASUU raised alarm that what its members acquired was solely part of their withheld salaries, and to many followers of the matter, the agitation for full cost and arguments in defence of the federal government motion appeared neither right here nor there, extra that there was no categorical dedication by the federal government to pay the stability.
Final week, ASUU via its nationwide president burst the bubble, asserting throughout a media interview that the union was deceptively pulled into ending the strike by Speaker Gbajabiamila, who he stated assured the union that the withheld salaries might be paid alongside addressing the opposite points.
President of the union, Prof Osodeke whereas reportedly requested to mirror on the speaker’s intervention and the present scenario of its dispute with the Federal Authorities through the interview, defined that the union had a smooth spot for the speaker, and acted the way in which it did on that understanding. In keeping with him, Gbajabiamil introduced a paper signed by him to ASUU, suggesting the seriousness of the federal authorities to pay the eight-month withheld salaries of its members in full.
Home fires again
With publication of the interview, the Home of Representatives got here arduous on ASUU, and in addition denied any misleading tendency within the intervention it made. Spokesman of the Home, Benjamin Kalu in a response final Wednesday insisted that “at no level did the Speaker of the Home of Representatives decide to offset the arrears of salaries owed to union members for the time they have been on strike”, noting that the Home solely helped resolve the strike by making commitments to enhance the welfare package deal of college lecturers.
“These commitments are mirrored within the 2023 Appropriation Invoice, which incorporates 100 and seventy billion naira (N170,000,000,000.00) to offer a stage of increment within the welfare package deal of college lecturers and extra 300 billion naira (N300,000,000,000.00) in revitalisation funds…
“Professor Emmanuel Osodeke is aware of that the Federal Authorities of Nigeria is below no obligation to pay college lecturers’ salaries for the period they have been on strike. This can be a settled matter in legislation. See S. 43(1)(a) Commerce Disputes Act, Cap T8, Legal guidelines of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN).
The Government determination to not pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is warranted by the federal government’s respectable curiosity in stopping ethical hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.
“Nonetheless, the Speaker has made interventions for an exemption on this regard, and Professor Osodeke is properly conscious of this…
“Professor Osodeke’s bad-faith strategy to negotiations and his affinity for political brinkmanship are important causes the colleges have been on strike for thus lengthy. His ongoing interventions proceed to threaten the progress being made to preclude the potential of additional disruptions to the educational calendar of the colleges. Due to this fact, I name on him, in his capability as President of the Tutorial Employees Union of Universities (ASUU), to desist from making additional deceptive statements towards the Home of Representatives and the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila.
“There isn’t a place for belligerence and egocentric agitation on this crucial second. That is the time for calm heads and regular palms, working collectively for the widespread good”, the spokesman stated within the response.
gesture turning bitter?
Many have been questioning over what might have gone unsuitable within the course of resulting in suspension of the strike. Impartial investigation urged that Gbajabiamila truly supplied the union with documentary proof that the federal authorities had made commitments to pay part of the withheld salaries, however identified that there have been no said specifics on the variety of months to be paid.
Is the Speaker’s supposed good gesture turning bitter at the long term? That is the massive query now begging for solutions.
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