ASUU-Nsukka Zone stakeholders during the press briefing (Photo by Gideon Arinze)
By Gideon Arinze
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) Nsukka Zone has expressed dissatisfaction with the continued refusal of the Federal government to implement the negotiation it reached with the Union in 2009.
The union also expressed dismay over what it referred to as the neglect of the education sector through undermining of the patriotic effort of ASUU members nationwide.
Speaking during a press briefing held by the Union to press home its demand for the implementation of the negotiation in Enugu, the zonal coordinator, ASUU- Nsukka zone, Dr. Igbana Ajir recalled that the Union had a comprehensive negotiation with the Federal government on many issues that bordered on funding of Universities, salaries and allowances of academic staff.
According to him, the union called off its six weeks nationwide strike after it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government wherein it agreed to implement the 2009 agreement.
He however regretted that the issues which were raised by the union have largely remained unaddressed after the strike which is an indication that the government is not interested in addressing the rot and decay in the Nigerian University system.
He further stated that UNESCO has long approved that 26% of every nations budget be allocated to the education sector because of the critical role it plays in terms of development but regretted that Nigeria has refused to act by that order as the sector receives almost the lowest budget.
Among the outstanding issues contained in the agreement were the release of 20 billion revitalization fund for public Universities in Nigeria; the payment of all arrears of short fall in salary in all Universities that have met the requirements for Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) Verification and the release of National Pension Commission’s operational license which was not released one year after the agreement was signed.
Agir called on the civil society organizations and other concerned citizens in the country to rally round in order to rescue the educational system in the country as our contemporaries in Asia 58 years ago are almost a century ahead.
“ASUU’s struggle for transformative, public funded education is to achieve true liberation from poverty, ignorance, decolonization and underdevelopment and we cannot fail in our pursuit” he said.
Also speaking during the briefing, the Chairman of ASSU, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, (ESUT) Chapter, Dr. Ajaba Chinedu said that the union will continue to make determined efforts in order to prevail on the FG to do the needful so as to salvage the countries educational system, adding that the government did not pay any money to the union as was reported.
“This meeting is intended to enlighten the public on how the federal government has failed to implement the 2009 agreement and the 2013 memorandum of understanding the Union signed with it” he said adding that the union has written several letters to the ministry of education on the issues but received no response.
He said that the union is at the last stage of consultation with its members and that it will be left with no other option than to take further industrial action if no action is taken to implement the negotiation.