Ngige: FG, ASUU have reached an understanding on regaining lost ground

Minister of Labor and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige

The union ends the strike, commits itself to virtual teaching, and does extra work

Written by Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The Minister of Labor and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, gave an insight yesterday into an agreement between the federal government and the University Academic Staff Union (ASUU) that prompted the union to suspend its nine-month industrial action.

Ngige told THISDAY that part of the agreement between the two sides during Tuesday’s final round of talks that preceded yesterday’s strike was that lecturers would conduct virtual classes and restart academic activities before Jan. 18 scheduled for the Force’s presidential assignment at COVID-19. In addition, ASUU agreed to extend and compensate for the lost soil.

The minister also said he would not give ASUU any excuse to strike again.

Earlier yesterday, ASUU announced the suspension of the strike, which began in March, in order to press his request, among other things, to remove university lecturers from the digital platform for payment of salaries, the Integrated Payroll and the Personnel Information System (IPPIS). issued by the federal government for the payment of employee salaries.

Addressing the press conference in Abuja, the president of ASUU, prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the decision to return to the classroom was made based on an agreement reached with the federal government at a meeting Tuesday, which dealt with most of her demands.

He said an implementation committee has been set up to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

“Based on the above, the NEC concluded that the current union strike should be suspended with effect from 12.01 am on Thursday, December 24, 2020. However, if the government does not fulfill its part of the agreement, ASUU will continue the suspended strike as needed,” he added. is.

Ogunyemi, who read some of the resolutions passed by the ASUU National Executive Council (NEC) at a meeting Tuesday night to discuss a report on an agreement with the federal government, said the union had decided to give the federal government another chance to prove it could to believe.

He said the NEC agreed to accept the agreements reached between ASUU and the federal government on Tuesday and decided to consciously and diligently monitor their implementation.

Asked whether the federal government had kept its promise to start paying arrears of ASUU members, Ogunyemi said it had begun, although it has not yet been completed.

Ogunyemi added that it was also agreed that no member of ASUU should suffer a loss of well-deserved compensation as a result of participating in the strike.

According to him, the union has decided to continue with the areas in the 2009 ASUU-FG agreement and the 2013 Memorandum of Action that require legislation such as the inclusion of earned academic benefits (EAA) in the annual budget and changes to the National University Commission. ) Law of 2004.

Ogunyemi cited key ASUU requirements agreed to be included, the immediate release of acquired academic tuition, and the inclusion of the EAA in the annual budget, using an agreed formula, to get universities and other research centers involved immediately in the fight against COVID19.

As part of the agreement, the federal government should speed up action on examination processes and ensure the implementation of the University Solution for Transparency and Accountability (UTAS), the union’s favorite alternative to paying salaries in the university system.

Ogunyemi said the integrity test at UTAS is now in its final stages.

In addition, Ogunyemi said ASUU expects the government to speed up FG-ASUU renegotiations to ensure they are concluded within the deadlines agreed between the two sides.

Ogunyemi said: “ASUU is committed to returning to classrooms, laboratories to do its best for our students and our country.

* We will return to renew the motivation and aspirations of our members to strive to encourage our students to succeed, all in the expectation that governments, both federal and state, will sincerely fulfill their own part of the deal. “

Ogunyemi listed some of the key demands submitted by ASUU that spurred the current strike, including funding for the revitalization of public university infrastructure, earned academic allowances, withheld salaries, expansion of state universities, visits, reconstitution of government re-negotiation team and replacement of IPPIS UTAS -om.

However, Ngige, while reacting to the end of the strike, explained that ASUU, as part of its commitments made on Tuesday, accepted teaching, including conducting virtual classes to cover time lost during the nine-month strike.

Speaking about plans to continue teaching at universities, Ngige said that until the government orders the reopening of schools, the Senate of each university can give instructions on starting virtual classes before January 18, 2021, determined by the COVID19 presidential working group.

“The university senate can organize the beginning of virtual classes in the first week of January next year. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

“We want to congratulate all Nigerian parents, the National Assembly and ASUU on resolving the dispute. For both sides, it is a conditional stronghold because, although the federal government has pledged to fulfill part of it, ASUU has also promised to do additional workload to make up for lost time. “They also committed to virtual learning,” he said.

Regarding the amount of money that was left to ASUU and the universities according to the agreement, Ngige said that the federal government approved the release of N40 billion for earned allowances to all categories of staff at the universities.

He made several clarifications regarding the payment of earned allowances, saying that only deserving staff would benefit from the payment.
“It’s not money for a dash; university vice-chancellors will carefully study the process and ensure that only staff who deserve a salary are allowed to participate, ”he added.
Ngige, however, said the federal government would release a $ 30 billion revitalization fund to universities by January.
Ngige also said he would not give ASUU any excuse to strike again.

Ngige, whose ministry is a negotiator between the union and the Federal Ministry of Education, said he would ensure the government maintains its part of the deal.

Ngige, who was a guest on a live television program yesterday, said: “We will not get to that (new strike); we will not get there because we have structured the agreement in such a way that it is a win-win situation for everyone.

“For example, revitalization (Fund), we have given the government until January 31 to pay for it. We also opened a window that we will sit down and review the situation by the end of February, in eight or nine weeks, so that no one will keep anyone in suspense.

“I will not give ASUU a chance to strike (again) because I have three biological children who have suffered from this imbroglium in which we find ourselves.” So I am a devoted parent; I am involved, even more than some members of ASUU, because some of them have children in private schools.

“I will not give them a chance because I will make sure that the government does its thing. I structured the agreement in such a way that it is feasible. “

Asked by the ASUU president that the union could return to the strike without notifying the government, Ngige said: “They also know we have labor laws and if the worst happens, they will give time and inform them. ”