ASUU Strike: “I can’t tell Education Minister how to run his ministry’” – Ngige

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People in Chris Ngige’s job aren’t happy about the Academic Staff Union of Universities going on strike every time there’s a disagreement with the government.

After a meeting with members of the government’s team on the 2009 Federal Government/University-based Unions’ Agreement Renegotiation Committee, led by its Chairman, Prof. Nimi Briggs, the minister said this in a statement released by the Head of Press and Public Relations, Patience Onuobia, in Abuja yesterday.

The statement reads:

“I started pushing to see that things were done. What the Munzali Committee came up with is a proposal. Both Munzali and ASUU did not sign. At our last meeting in February, before ASUU went on strike, we said everyone should go back to their principal.

“I asked the Education Minister several times what they had done with the document. We later got information on the areas of disagreement. There is nothing wrong with that. It is bound to happen. I told ASUU to put up a committee; they said the Munzali Committee had expired.

As a conciliator, I have to make use of the labour instruments at my disposal. The bosses in the Federal Ministry of Education do not feel the strike. There are things that are above me.

“I am not the Minister of Education. I cannot go to the Education Minister and dictate to him how to run his place. But I told ASUU that they should be bombarding the Federal Ministry of Education for this to be moved forward.

“There are many ways to do so. If you go to the Labour Act, there is something called “picketing.” You can picket. A strike is the ultimate thing. Picketing means that you can stay in the corridor, clapping or singing. Workers are permitted to do so. But I am tired of every time there is a disagreement, there is a strike.

And the bosses in the Federal Ministry of Education don’t feel the strike. It is the children and some of us, as parents, that have our children in public schools. “

The minister said that the federal government still wants to change the terms of employment for everyone who works at a public university in the country.

Ngige stated he was proud of the Nigerian university system for producing him.

When we went to universities here, I knew the course content and, as a medical doctor, the doctors we trained here were better than the ones trained abroad. That is one of the pieces of counsel I gave to my children. You can do your first degree. One got admission in Ghana, and I said no. Others got into Canada and the UK, but I refused.

“If anybody is interested in the welfare of workers in Nigerian universities, I am number one. I told my colleagues that what university professors showed us here as their salaries is unacceptable,” he said.

As Provost of Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Prof. Briggs is also the head of the renegotiation committee. They’re meeting with everyone to come up with a long-term solution for everything that’s going on right now.

People who work at public universities won’t start classes again until the renegotiated 2009 agreement is signed and put into place. The University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) is also needed to make sure that the universities are more accountable.

University of Abuja Campus of Abuja (UniAbuja) Zonal Coordinator Dr. Salawu Lawal made the announcement while he was talking to reporters at the university in Gwagwalada on Thursday.
He stated that ASUU members would return to the classroom once the federal government satisfies their demands.

The Federal University of Lafia, the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai, and UniAbuja are all located in the Abuja zone.

Lawal said:

“You would recall that ASUU declared a four-week rolling strike at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) National Executive Council meeting on February 14.

“Owing to the failure of the Federal Government to act within that period, the national action was rolled over for another eight weeks, following the resolution taken at an emergency NEC meeting at the Festus Iyayi National Secretariat on March 14.

“The action, as you are probably aware, is to, among other things, compel the Federal Government to sign and implement the draft renegotiated 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement submitted to it by the Prof. Munzali Jibril Committee in May 2021.

“Deploy for use in the Nigerian university system was the home-grown payment and personnel solution called UTAS developed by ASUU as a replacement for the failed Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).”

“As usual, the Federal Government has ignored ASUU’s call for full implementation of that famous agreement and other memoranda signed with the union.

“No meeting has been held between the two parties since the commencement of the ongoing strike. The only exception is our union’s re-submission of UTAS for a retest.

“The summary is that unless and until the renegotiated 2009 agreement is signed and implemented and UTAS deployed, there will be no work in public universities.”

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