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By Damilola Faustino

After months of relative quiet and little or no disruption in Nigeria’s public universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has commenced a nationwide indefinite strike.

According to ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, the lecturers took the decision to declare the strike after deliberations at its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held at the University of Abuja during the weekend.

In a document titled: “Strike Bulletin No.1”, which was signed and issued by Ogunyemi, ASUU said the strike action was to be a total, comprehensive and indefinite action whereby no form of academic activities including teaching, attendance of any meeting, conduct and supervision of any examination at any level, supervision of project or thesis at any level should take place at any of the nation’s universities.

The union had embarked on a six-month strike between July and December 2013 and the strike was only suspended after the government signed a MoU with the union. And according to ASUU, “Of all the items contained in the MoU, only the N200b out of a total of N1.3tr of the Public Universities Revitalisation (Needs Assessment) fund was released.

“The union also embarked on a one-week warning strike in November 2016 to press for the implementation of 2013 MoU. However, the government did not implement the understanding reach between the union and Federal Government based on the intervention by the leadership of Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The union has also met with the 2009 Agreement Implementation Monitoring Committee, IMC, and had written several letters press releases and communiqués on the outstanding issues to no avail.

“The National Executive Council, NEC, of ASUU then met at the University of Abuja on August 12, 2017, to consider the result of a referendum from all branches in a bid to ascertain ways of convincing government to implement outstanding aspects of the 2009 and the MoU of 2013”.

ASUU further listed the outstanding issues with the Federal Government to include: payment of fractions/non-payment of salaries; non-payment of earned academic allowances, non-release of operational license of NUPEMCO; non-implementation of the provisions of the 2014 pension reform act with respect to retired professors and their salaries, removal of universities staff schools from funding by government and funds for the revitalisation of public universities.

The government is yet to respond to the indefinite nationwide strike called by ASUU. We hope both parties will resolve their differences as soon as possible so that academic activities can restart on campuses.

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