THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Monday dashed the hopes of Nigerians by extending its six-month-old strike indefinitely until the Federal Government meets its demands.
A member of the union, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the development to newsmen following a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the striking varsity teachers at the University of Abuja.
He said the union extended the industrial action after reviewing progress reports on ongoing negotiations with the Federal Government in the last four weeks when ASUU rolled over the strike.
Last week, the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu said the Federal Government had addressed most of the union’s demands including the release of N50b for the payment of earned allowances for academic and non-academic and non-academic staff of universities.
ASUU embarked on the strike on February 14th, 2022. It had then declared a four-week warning strike. But after a month, the lecturers extended it by eight weeks, saying the government needs more time to look at its demands.
Following the Federal Government and lecturers’ inability to reach a resolution, the union on May 9 further extended the strike by 12 weeks.
The university teachers are seeking improved welfare, the revitalisation of public universities, and academic autonomy among others. Several meetings between government representatives and ASUU have ended in deadlock. One such was held about two weeks ago with the Professor Nimi Briggs Committee at the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja.
But a senior member of ASUU told newsmen that the Briggs Renegotiation Committee did not come up with a new deal. The anonymous source said the committee had pleaded with the union to suspend the strike and promised that their concerns will be included in next year’s budget.
Since the industrial dispute, several groups and individuals have waded into the matter. The latest is human rights lawyer Femi Falana who asked the Federal Government to sign the renegotiated agreement with the striking workers.
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“Instead of engaging in the diversionary tactics of blackmailing ASUU the Federal Government should ensure that the strike is called off by signing the Renegotiated Agreement with ASUU without any further delay,” Falana said in a statement he issued on Sunday.
“While calling on both sides to resume the negotiations in the interest of the country the Federal Government should be prevailed upon to end the prolonged industrial action.”
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