An end may be in sight for the four-month old strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as the Senate, Wednesday, mandated its President, Senator David Mark, to engage both the federal government and ASUU with a view to ending the strike.
The senators, who urged the striking lecturers to return to the classroom to prevent what they described as further devaluation of the country’s educational fortunes, also mandated the committee on education to liase with the Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC) and all other relevant stakeholders to proffer a lasting solution to the crisis.
The Senate’s resolution, which followed a motion sponsored by 107 senators and presented by Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, recalled that ASUU had been on strike since July 1 in protest of federal government’s alleged failure to implement the 2009 agreement signed with lecturers for proper funding of the nation’s universities.
According to him, the Senate noted with concern that the strike had paralysed academic activities in the universities and consequently rendered the institutions redundant, stressing that several negotiations between the striking lecturers and the federal government along with the intervention of some prominent Nigerians have failed to produce the desired results.
Ndoma-Egba also revealed that despite the release of N100 billion for infrastructural development to the universities as well as additional N30 billion as accumulated allowances by the federal government, the lecturers have refused to be pacified, regretting that a situation where ASUU is on strike, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) is also on strike and the College of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) also recently embarking on seven days of warning strike is worrisome.
Presenting the details of ASUU’s demands as contained in the 2009 agreement with the federal government by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije shocked his colleagues, with some of the demands of the union perceived as unnecessary.
Such demands include maternity leave allowance, sick leave allowance, injury allowance, car allowance, postgraduate (PG) grants for the supervision of PG students, external excess workload allowance, sabbatical leave allowance, teaching practice and industrial training allowance as well as funding of the state and federal universities.
The total sum of the demands by ASUU in figure, according to Chukwumerije, amounted to N1,05 trillion, adding that it was agreed that N5 billion would be released in 2009, another N5 billion in 2010, among others.
Speaking on the strike, Mark implored ASUU to return to the classroom on behalf of the Senate, saying he thought details of the agreement when being read by Chukwumerije were mere proposals in view of the degree of triviality involved.
According to him, the nature of the agreement showed that those who represented the federal government at the negotiation table where it was signed, were people who did not know their right from their left. He described the action as unfair to the nation.