The National Association of University Students, Osun Campus Monitoring Committee, has urged the Nigerian government and striking lecturers to return to the negotiation table and resolve the ongoing crisis affecting university education.
Osun NAUS Chairman, Eruobami Ayobami, disclosed this while addressing a press conference on Sunday.
Ayobami bemoaned the continued closure of schools following the strike action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He said the strike which was already over 60 days old was beginning to take its toll on students, particularly as there was no end in sight.
Describing the strike as a major issue affecting education in the country, Ayobami said, “We had expected that between then and now, something tangible would have been done by the government or its agencies to assuage the strike but alas, the government doesn’t think it’s important to resolve the problems over 60 days since the strike started. We, therefore, want to reiterate that as an association, we have vowed not to go mute or be silent until necessary actions are taken.
“The prolonged strike has started to take a negative turn on our students, particularly now that we all seem not to know when this challenge is going to finally come to an end. We want to again use this press conference to appeal to the government to consider the plights of many of our members who have been affected seriously by this strike and to also plead with the Federal Government to revisit its position on ASUU and the need for both parties to return back to the negotiating table so that all of the issues can be resolved once and for all.
“It is our belief that if the government is really concerned about the deplorable education system in Nigeria, they won’t have any problem implementing the agreement they freely entered with the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
“We state unequivocally that ASUU demands are right and correct and we do believe it’s for the progress and stability of our university system. For us, we do not see where the following demands by the academic staff union are faulty; reviewing the salary structure of academic staff which has remained the same for 10 years. In the agreement they freely entered into in 2009, both parties agreed to always review and revisit it every three years, but for 10 years now, the government has arrogantly refused to honour its agreement with ASUU. So why is the government reneging on the agreement they never signed under duress? The Federal Government must lead by example on this.
“The Integrated Personnel and Payrolls Information System (IPPIS) developed by the government to pay civil servants and strangely academic staff (a group of people that are clearly different) as since shown its failures and it’s even causing major challenge within the university system.
“Even the government recently in the national dailies reported that IPPIS software was hacked. That clearly is a major revelation of the weakness of that platform as a payment system but rather than embrace the UTAS payment system that ASUU developed taking into consideration the university setting, the government continues to reject it even when his agency (NITDA) has since confirmed that the UTAS payment system has almost 98% success rate!
“We in NAUS call on the government to not unnecessarily grandstand and continue to waste scarce resources on the IPPIS. Government should as a matter of urgency embrace the UTAS and start to use it for the payment of university staff salaries and allowances.
“On the earned allowances, we call on the government to immediately pay the workers their due money. To us, we consider it as an act of irresponsibility for people to work extra hours for a job you are supposed to even hire new staff for and still refused to pay them their allowances. We wonder why the government and National Assembly members continue to pay themselves huge and unjustifiable allowances but continue to make our teachers and fathers cry for their meagre entitlements?
“On the revitalisation funds, the government has failed woefully in the last 7 years! We call on the government to do more and help lift the dying infrastructures in our universities back to life! Across the campuses in our country, the state of infrastructures and laboratories is so terrible and nauseating. NAUS calls on the government to as a matter of urgency come to the rescue of our infrastructures if the government truly wants Nigerian graduates to be able to function and compete effectively in the 21st century.”
ASUU had embarked on a four-week warning strike on February 14th to press home its demands, with the prominent ones being the renegotiation of the ASUU/FG 2009 agreement and the sustainability of the university autonomy by deploying UTAS to replace the government’s “imposed” (IPPIS).
Other demands include the release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities, distortions in salary payment challenges, funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowance, poor funding of state universities and promotion arrears.
On March 14, the association extended the strike action by two months to afford the government more time to address all of its demands.