Buhari government wants to starve, intimidate us to break our resolve —Nigerian university lecturers laments after 16 weeks of strike

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the Nigerian government of attempting to use intimidation and nonpayment of their entitlements to stop their push for the revitalisation of tertiary education in the country. The striking lecturers made this known in a circular released on Thursday by its National President, Emmanuel Osodeke.

They said in the last 16 weeks that they have been on industrial strike, the government has stopped the payment of their salaries. The ASUU president, therefore, commended the union members for their perseverance toward achieving a common goal. The circular reads: “Our roll-over strike is 16 weeks old now. As the struggle continues, members are commended for their commitment and steadfastness in the patriotic struggle for the survival of the University system in our country.

“Members are particularly applauded for keeping faith with the Union in spite of the hardship imposed on our families as a result of the stoppage of salaries. You have made the statement loud and clear that we are not beggars and, as a result, hunger is an impotent instrument to break our resolve.

“Our iron-cast resolve has forced the government to sit down and negotiate with us. We have had five meetings with the Federal Government Team and two meetings with the Minister of Education.

“The renegotiation of the 2009 agreement of ASUU-FGN agreement is progressing smoothly and has reached an advanced stage. However, we must remain focused to the end of this struggle.

“UTAS has been tested for the 3rd time. So far NITDA has tested UTAS and USPS and will start testing IPPIS next week. We are undeterred by the antic of some government officials in this respect.

“It is clear that hunger, misinformation, distortion of facts, intimidation and other sundry acts of arm-twisting have failed to break our resolve to date; they should not break us now.”

“Ignore fake news and divisive information emanating from the social media and a section of the press. If in doubt over any issue, contact your chairperson for correct information. We are at the threshold of victory. Let us keep faith with the Union. A people united can never be defeated,” the circular added. ASUU has been on strike for over four months to press home its demands.

The striking lecturers’ demands include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, use of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears. The lecturers went on strike on February 14 and have been extending it. In May, the union extended the strike by another 12 weeks. Osodeke had said it was to give the government more time “to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues.”

“The Federal Government has been grossly mishandling the crisis, fielding incompetent, arrogant ministers, and treating the education sector with disdain. It has to act quickly to end the impasse, fulfil its obligations and persuade the dons to resume work immediately,” the ASUU leader had said. Also, the non-teaching staff of universities including Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, SSANU, and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have embarked on industrial actions after the failure of the government to meet the demands of the respective unions.

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