The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, has said that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has no reason to continue the over five months old strike action.
Dr. Okupe stated that virtually all the agreement reached between the leaders of the union and the President during the 13 hours meeting which held in October, has been implemented by the Federal Government.
He added that after the meeting between the union and the President, the union promised to call off the strike action within seven days after taking the message of the President to their members, but did not honour their words.
“At the end of that meeting, the Government proposed that everything that has been agreed should be put in a memorandum of agreement and that the two parties should sign, but the leadership of ASUU declined and said instead of that, they would rather have a letter of comfort expressing everything that has been resolved therein, and that will suffice for them.”
Okupe stated that the Federal Government fulfilled their part of the agreement and expected the union to play their part but they didn’t.
“In spite of the fact that the ASUU leadership presented the letter of comfort to its chapters nationwide and a clear majority of them endorsed the resolutions reached and actually were more inclined towards calling off the strike,” Okupe said.
Okupe said it was sad that a member of the union died in an auto crash; but added that the death of the member is not the actual reason why the strike action was prolonged.
“It is unfortunate that somebody died but notwithstanding, that cannot be a justification for delaying the implementation of an agreement for 21 or more days,” he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President noted that as part of the agreement during the meeting to spread the payment of N1.3 trillion to the union for six years, the Federal Government had commenced payment in December 2013.
“Based on this, it was also agreed that a sum of N1.3 trillion shall be made available to ASUU over the next six years starting from December 2013 with (the sum of) N200 billion. The FGN therefore request that the ASUU shall within 7 days call off its 4 months strike.”
He stated that after paying the said amount to the designated account in the CBN, the union brought up another demand; adding that they cannot call off the strike action.
“We could not call off the strike because of certain uncertainties or gaps that are evident in the government’s report,” ASUU said.
Dr. Okupe also added that the union does not have any reason to prolong the strike action for one more day.
We are not aware of the N200 billion deposits
In a swift response, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Nasir Issa-Fagge said the Federal Government has not formally communicated to the Union about the alleged opening of an account credited with the sum of N200 billion in the Central Bank to the union.
Dr. Fagge stated that the details of the account should be officially documented to the union before they would consider suspending the strike action.
“The union requested that once that is done (bank account opening and deposit made) and the committee that is supposed to disburse the funds start working, our members will have no reason not to suspend the strike action. The most important part of this thing at this point is that let there be documentation.
“Why won’t government make available this money so that we know the money is there and the universities commence drawing from this money to address the problem of decay in infrastructure, teaching and research facilities? When that is done, our members will suspend the strike,” Fagge said.
He added that the union is not enjoying the strike action as some of the members have children in Nigerian universities, while others are students in the institutions studying for their MA, MSC and PhD. He however stated that the strike action was necessary to improve the standard of learning in Nigerian Universities.