Comrade Umar Faruk Lawal, President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has said that the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will soon shelf their swords and return to classes.
The varsity lecturers have been on strike since February 14 over the continued inability of the Federal Government to honour the memorandum of action it signed with the union some years ago.
Negotiations between the parties failed to end the seven-month-old industrial action which confined Nigerian university students to their homes instead of classes.
Lawal said this shortly after a meeting with the leadership of the ASUU on ways to end the lingering strike.
“My leadership will engage FG, ASUU to end the ongoing strike,” Comrade Faruk assured.
He said NANs will meet the federal government, and relevant education stakeholders to parley for a lasting solution that would make the students return to their campuses.
He said, “It is time for our students to return to school. I have met with the leadership of ASUU and we are going to meet with the government and ensure that our students return to school”.
The union’s grievances include the government’s refusal to adopt the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) payroll software, something that the Federal Government faulted its security and standard. The government insisted that all Nigerian public university staff must be keyed into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) but ASUU refused.
ASUU also asked the Federal Government to endorse the renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, which it said was concluded in May 2021; the release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities and payment of the National Minimum Wage.
ASUU is also demanding funds for the revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances, improved funding for state universities and payment of promotion arrears.
The Federal Ministry of Education claimed to have resolved about 80 percent of the demands of the striking university lecturers. The ministry said the decision of ASUU to elongate the strike indefinitely despite 80 percent of its demands being made is excommunicated.
“We resolved in our just concluded NEC meeting that we should make the ongoing strike indefinite since the federal government has failed to show any commitment to addressing the grey areas that led us to this action.”
Ben Goong, Director of Press and Public Relations Federal Ministry of Education, said, “It is unreasonable for the strike to be lingering since the government has worked towards fulfilling most of the demands.”
“As regards the next steps, the government has already inaugurated a committee to harmonize the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System, U3PS,” he added.
ASUU faulted Federal Government’s claims. The union said none of its demands that necessitated the strike was made.
To the union, all its seven-point demands remained unattended to, labelling Federal Government’s claims ‘lies.’
“Nigerians should disregard the lies of the Federal Government. The Federal Government is far from meeting any of the union’s seven demands,” Professor Akinwole Ayoola, ASUU Chairman University of Ibadan said.