ASUU: Crisis Looms In Universities Over FG’s Delay To Conclude Re-negotiation Agreement

ANOTHER round of crisis that may lead to another strike is looming in the public universities over the alleged inability of the Federal Government to conclude re-negotiations with the university-based unions on the 2009 Agreement.

This is as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU has lamented that it has lost so many of its members as a result of the failure of the government to pay the four months of withheld salaries during the strike period.

Recall that the four university-based unions, SSANU, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, had last year, shut down public universities over the inability of the government to attend to their demands.

ASUU precisely withdrew its services on February 14, 2022, and was followed by NAAT after many weeks and then SSANU and NASU.

While SSANU and NASU called off their strike in August last year after they reached an agreement with the Federal Government, ASUU remained adamant until the intervention of the National Industrial Court, which ordered the striking lecturers to go back to their duty posts in October.

As the case instituted by the federal government against ASUU is still pending in court, Vanguard reliably gathered that another round of storm is gathering momentum in the universities over the alleged delay by the federal government to conclude discussions with the unions on the 2009 Agreement.

In a communique at its 42nd Regular National Executive Council, NEC, meeting hosted by the University of Calabar, Cross River State, SSANU demanded immediate resumption and conclusion of re-negotiation of the 2009 Agreement.

The national President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim told Vanguard that, “the earlier we conclude this re-negotiation and sign a new agreement, the better for the university system.”

In the communique, SSANU had said, “NEC in session is deeply peeved by the nonchalant and detached attitude of the Federal Government towards the long-standing issue of renegotiating the 2009 Agreement.

“Renegotiation of the Agreement is overdue by 12 years. This is against the statutory five years agreed for periodic review. It is most disheartening and appalling the way Federal Government is handling the issue.

“We are seriously disturbed by government reluctance despite SSANU’s readiness in ensuring that this matter is urgently concluded. NEC therefore, demands the immediate resumption and conclusion of this exercise without any further delay as the content of the current Agreement has been eroded by the harsh economic situation occasioned by the hyperinflation and its effect on workers.”

Speaking on the withheld four months’ salary which the government refused to pay due to the invocation of the ‘no work, no pay’ policy while the unions went on strike, SSANU President, Comrade Ibrahim said it was unfair for the government not to pay members their salary.

According to him, “We have lost many members as a result of the non-payment of the four months’ salary. This non-payment of salary resulted in a lot of health-threatening issues.”

The SSANU boss said that the union went on strike because of the failure of the government to address their concerns and that the union followed all the laid down Labour laws before embarking on the strike.

He contended that withholding their salary multiplies the problems in the society and compounds the stress his members are facing on issues of house rents, payments of loans, and undertaking societal obligations among others.