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ASUU Will Not Suspend Strike, FG Hasn’t Shown Any Commitment —- Union’s President

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Sunday dashed the hope of millions of Nigerians stating that it had no plans to suspend the eight-week-old strike insisting the Federal government had not shown any commitment to addressing its demands.

Addressing newsmen at ASUU, University of Lagos secretariat, the National President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed that since the start of the strike on November 4, the union met six times with government agents and there was no clear commitment from government to resolve the issues in contention.

Flanked by the ASUU Lagos zone Coordinator, Prof Olusiji Sowande, and other branch chairmen, Prof Ogunyemi asked the Federal government replace the Chairman of the Renegotiation Committee on the FG/ASUU 2009 agreement, Dr. Wale Babalakin, based on its experience during over one year of negotiation.

Ogunyemi disclosed that government appeared to have adopted the “keep-them-talking” strategy while deceiving the public that progress was being made thus a partial agreement had been reached between the government and the union.

“Our expectation from a very responsive and sincere government is that by now, all outstanding issues would have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Unfortunately, government is yet to show sincerity in addressing the problem.

“As at today, there are no concrete commitments on the part of government to warrant considering the suspension of this strike action, which we did all that was possible to avoid.

“Government should demonstrate serious commitment to implementing the spirit and letters of the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement, as well as the resulting 2013 MoU, for the rapid transformation of Nigeria’s public universities for improved efficiency, infrastructural development and global competitiveness.”

The ASUU president said the purported release of N20billion due for release in September/October 2017, which was widely publicised by government, had not been confirmed to and had not been received in any public universities while it had also not made any commitment to payment of the outstanding five tranches of the balance of N1.1trillion Needs Assessment intervention fund for revitalisation of public universities.

According to him, government, through its forensic audit report had acknowledged that members were being owed arrears of Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) from 2009 to 2016 including two extra years and hoped government would have factored that into the 2019 budget to avoid clamour for payment of arrears in future.

He regretted that government declared that steps had been taken to address the injustice, payment of EAA to its loyal members in University of Ilorin while that was yet to be effected, stressing that government appeared to paying lip service to the issue.

The ASUU boss revealed that arrears of shortfalls in salaries had not been addressed and there was no agreed date for the payment of the verified claims to the affected universities.

On the demand for government to sack the chairman of the renegotiation committee, Prof Ogunyemi said there were unresolved issues about him as the leader of the government team and head of the renegotiation.

“We have strong reasons to believe that the continuation of Dr. Babalakin as the head of the renegotiation with ASUU would not yield good fruit. He is ideologically fixated on tuition fees and does not agree that education is a public good. ASUU strongly objects to this.

“Our experience with Dr. Babalakin for over 14 months tells us that Dr. Babalakin cannot relate objectively to any of the issues in our demands at the negotiation table. We, therefore, once more call on government to replace Dr. Babalakin as the chairman of the renegotiation committee of the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement,” Ogunyemi stated.

He used the opportunity to debunk insinuations that ASUU strike was meant to scuttle the 2019 general elections adding “our strike has nothing to do with election. We are not planning to abort any election.”

On claims by some government officials that the ongoing strike had political colouration, the ASUU president said the allegation was laughable and that the union was not perturbed by the insinuations saying that it was when government did not have solutions to its demands that it came up with the claim of sponsorship. “In 2013, ASUU was accused by the then government; so we are not surprise or moved by the allegation.”

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My Asset Declaration Forms Were Tampered With —- Onnoghen Declares

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Walter Onnoghen, suspended chief justice of Nigeria (CJN), says his two asset declarations forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) were tampered with.

Speaking through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, at his resumed trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) in Abuja on Monday, the suspended CJN said the forms he submitted in 2014 and 2016 were mutilated and in loose form.

Onnoghen is currently being tried by the CCT on a six-count charge of non-declaration of some of his assets, although he said it was an oversight.

James Akpala, a senior investigation officer with the CCB, had requested to tender the asset forms investigated by the agency.

When Awomolo asked Onnoghen to confirm the document before it is admitted, the former CJN said it had been doctored.

Akpala, however, narrated how the bureau responded to a petition from the Centre for Anti-Corruption Initiative, signed by one Denis Aghanya, on January 10.

He said his team got a statement from Onnoghen and applied for his account details with his bank, while the team concluded the investigation within 24 hours.

While being cross-examined, Akpala declined comment on if he was aware that the charges, evidence and witnesses against Onnoghen were prepared and signed on January 10, the same day the petition was signed, which was even before the conclusion of the investigation on January 11.

He also said that he was not aware if the bureau had a central registry and register where all returned forms were stored.

Also, Akpala refused to comment when he was shown that the financial statement he said he got from Onnoghen’s bank was addressed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), having denied earlier that the anti-graft agency was involved in the investigation.

The CCT later adjourned till Thursday to allow Onnoghen appear before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

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BREAKING: Many Trapped As Another Building Collapses In Oke-Arin, Lagos Island [VIDEO]

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Occupants of a building in the Oke Arin part of Lagos Island are currently trapped following the collapse of a house at Egerton Square.

The incident,we gathered, happened around 3:45pm on Monday.

Officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LABCA) were demolishing a house beside the building when it caved in.

Kehinde Adebayo, spokesman of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), told TheCable that a rescue team was on its way to the scene.

“We are currently on our way to the place. As soon as I get more update, I’ll get across to you,” he told TheCable.

The development is coming five days after 20 persons, including school children were killed in the Ita-Faaji area of Lagos Island.

The state government had embarked on demolition of defective structures in the local government two days after the Ita–Faaji incident.

On Friday, a three-storey building under construction in Ibadan, Oyo state collapsed but all the 23 workers were rescued.

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Give Us Power, Prioritize The Electricity Sector; Elumelu Begs President Buhari

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Chairman of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to give priority attention to the electricity sector of the economy.

Speaking at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of the group, in Abuja, weekend, Elumelu said: “Let him help us with power,” arguing that constant power supply would drastically reduce the cost of doing business in the country and make economy more competitive.

With poor electricity supply across the nation, corporate organisations and individuals have had to spent huge sums of money on diesel and petrol to fuel their generators.
Transcorp spent a whopping N1.292 billion as energy cost in the year under review, according to the company’s Annual Report and Financial Statements.

Elumelu noted that the N701 billion Power Payment Assurance Plan, PAP, initiative of the Federal Government under the management of the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, Plc greatly improved liquidity in the sector but noted that the problem of huge unpaid invoices of Power Generating Companies, GENCOs, persisted in the fiscal year.

This challenge, he said, must be addressed by the Federal Government to significantly impact the receivables of the GENCOS, gas suppliers and transporters in the sector.
The Trasncorp boss also urged President Buhari to make it possible for Nigerian investors to benefit from the nation’s assets.

“Let him encourage domestic investors to benefit from the assets of this nation,’’ Elumelu said. The Federal Government had announced plans to sell some of the national assets, although details of that programme have not been made known.

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