…In the just concluded week, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) suspended its nine-month old industrial action amid Federal Government’s acceptance to address most of it’s demand.According to ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the agreements reached with the FG include: the immediate release of Earned Academic Allowances(EAA) and mainstreaming of the EAA into the annual budget; amendment of the National University Commission (NUC)Act 2004; and ensuring the deployment of the University Transperancy and Accountability Solution (UTAS),the union’s preferred alternative to the government’s Integrated Personnel & Payroll Information System (IPPIS), for the payment of salaries inthe university system amongst other things.
The Union,promising to resume the suspended strike ifFG did not fulfill its part of the agreements, set up a Committee to monitor implementation of the agreements. On the side of the Federal Government, It expects immediate resumption of academic activities, mandating lecturers to begin virtual teaching in order “to get the students up to speed”,before the January 18, 2021resumption date for all schools in the country which was announced by the Presidential Task Force (PTF)as one of the strategies to contain the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, optimism that normalcy would return to the tertiary institution may be short lived as the non-teaching staff in the Universities disagreed with FG’s sharing formula of the N40 billion earned allowances it promised to pay.
The non-teaching staff stated that 75% of the N40 billion was allocated to ASUU while only 25% was allocated to the other three unions to share –the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, and the National Association of Academic Technologists.
We commend the two parties for reaching a comprise which eventually led to the suspension of the rather protracted industrial action. Nevertheless, we expect the Federal Government to remain committed to its promises as another round of strike would cause more damage to the already weak educational sector in the country.
Hence, we note that FG should holistically address the agitation of all stakeholders in order to forestall another strike action from other unions which may have negative impact on the operations of the universities and make learning less effective.