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HURIWA Condemns Continued ASUU Strike

Prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned as an ‘intolerable rascality’ the failure and perpetual unwillingness of the Federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to work out a middle of the road solution to the lingering industrial crisis in the public tertiary institutions so the Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria can end the longstanding strike.

HURIWA said it is grossly irresponsible and insensitive that the Federal Government has failed to comply by her voluntary obligations in fulfilling the contractual terms entered into with the University teachers leading to the over three Months old strike which has rendered millions of students of publicly maintained Universities idle and are roaming around doing nothing just as some of these unfortunate students forced to stay at home have been lured into societal crimes because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.

Besides, HURIWA, in a statement made sequel to a media statement signed by ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, which announced further 12 weeks extension of strike which it said was to give the government enough time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues, said the University teachers were senseless and insanely insensitive to the situation that their students are forced to go through, and argued that the striking teachers were unmindful of the irreparable Academic harm they have caused to the unfortunate students of publicly owned schools even as HURIWA blamed ASUU and the Federal Government for the non-recognition of Nigerian University degrees for the purposes of granting special talents’ VISA as recerecently announced by the GoverGovernment of the United Kingdom.

HURIWA quoted ASUU as saying also that the roll-over strike was effective from 12.01 am, May 9, 2021 just as ASUU said it took this decision after its National Executive Council meeting which started on Sunday night at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja.

HURIWA recalled that ASUU’s statement read thus: “After extensive deliberations, noting Government’s failure to live up to its responsibilities and speedily address all the issues raised in the 2020 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) within the additional eight-week roll–over strike period declared on 14th March 2022, NEC resolved that the strike be rolled over for twelve weeks to give Government more time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues. “The roll-over strike action is with effect from 12.01 a.m. on Monday, 9th May 2022.”

HURIWA recalled that ASUU asserted that: “The press release titled, ‘Update on ASUU roll-over strike,’ read, “The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting on Sunday, 8th May 2022 at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja. “The meeting was called to review developments since the Union declared an eight-week total and comprehensive roll-over strike action at the end of its emergency NEC meeting at the Comrade Festus Iyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja on 14th March, 2022. The strike action came on the heels of the Government’s failure to satisfactorily implement the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the Union in December 2020 on renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), funding for revitalization of public universities (both Federal and States), proliferation and governance issues in State Universities, promotion arrears, withheld salaries (owed for over 20 months in some cases), and Non-emittance of third-party deductions.”

The Rights group said ASUU’S statement added that NEC noted with serious disappointment that the three-man Committee set up by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 1st February 2022 to resolve the lingering issues between ASUU and FGN had not called a single meeting to date. “NEC was equally disappointed that ASUU’s only meeting with the Professor Nimi Briggs-led Renegotiation Committee did not reflect the expected level of understanding, preparation and clarity that undergird collective bargaining going by the Committee’s confession of “going about consulting stakeholders”. Unless urgent steps are taken to redirect the Committee on concluding a draft Agreement that has been pending since May 2021, its activities may end up as another wild goose chase,” it read.

HURIWA recalled that some of ASUU’s demands include the release of revitalisation funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the UTAS payment platform for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers.

HURIWA said salutary as ASUU’S demands are, the fact that the striking teachers did not factor in the gross violations of the fundamental human rights of their Students most of whom are from poor homes, makes the persistent strike action an ‘Unpardonable Irritant’ just as the Rights group condemned the Mi ister of Labour and Education for bastardising public educational faculties and failing to get the Federal government to comply with her obligations. HURIWA said the fact that Millions of Students are at home and the minister of state for education Mr. Emeka Nwajiuba and his counterpart in Labour Mr. Chris Ngige purchased N100 million each worth of APC’s Presidential nomination and expression of interest forms, shows that they are callous, inhumane, and grossly unfit to hold their curre t public office.

HURIWA said ASUU can work out other means of forcing the hands of government officials like publicising the schools in Europe, Canada and America whereby the Children of these officials of government are enrolled and writing letters to these schools to accuse the parents of theft of publicbfunds to sponsor the education of their kids in those school. HURIWA said incessant strike actions won’t make government officials change because political elites even want children of the poor to be uneducated and idle so they can mobilise them and deployment them as armed political thugs during elections. HURIWA urges the National University Commission to work out the possibility of enlisting volunteer teachers for public schools so they can be deployed to public schools to teach students rather than keep these youths idle and jobless.

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