Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ASUU STRIKE: ERC welcomes NUT, NUPENG and NUEE’s decision to call solidarity strike

The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) has said that it welcomes the
decision of three trade unions – the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT),
the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and
the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) – to embark on
solidarity strike actions to compel the Federal Government to honour
agreements signed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities
The National Coordinator of the ERC, Mr. Hassan Soweto said this in a
statement to newsmen recently. Soweto urged the three unions to take
this beyond the realm of threats and immediately name a day on which
the solidarity strike would take place. He said that the unions should
begin "active mobilisation of their rank and file members as well as
students who are frustrated at home and concerned Nigerians to come
out en-masse for mass protests and demonstrations on this day."
Adding, the ERC Boss said: "We commend the three unions for taking
this decision which we believe is in the best interest of the
education sector and the Nation at large. We agree that the ASUU
strike has gone on for far too long and the plethora of strikes in the
education sector are just too many. Slowly the entire public education
sector is grinding to a halt. For instance, the public polytechnics
are equally closed and it will not be too long before the Colleges of
Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) follow suit. The Colleges of
Education lecturers had recently held a 7-day warning strike. Indeed,
the Academic Staff of Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) had to resume the
strike, they had suspended in July after three months, due to the
insensitivity and insincerity of government to their demands and terms
of the suspension of the last strike."
Soweto argued that such a solidarity strike would be in the best
interest of the education sector and the country at large. He said:
"The three unions come from key sectors of the Nation's economy. As
such their decision to embark on solidarity strike if given full and
practical effect could help pile pressure on the recalcitrant
anti-poor Federal Government to meet demands of striking education
unions so that public Universities and Polytechnics can be reopened
for academic activities to resume. This would also serve as an example
for other unions and the entire labour movement to follow. We want to
stress that the solidarity actions which the NUT, NUPENG and NUEE have
envisioned should also cover and back the strikes of ASUP, COEASU and
all other unions in the education sector that have any on-going
dispute with the government over pay, conditions and education
funding. This is the best way to ensure that all the outstanding
disputes in the education sector are resolved and all public
Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Educations are opened for
full and undisrupted academic activities." Soweto added that the ERC
understands the position of Nigerians who believe that the entire
sector will crumble if such a union as the NUT goes on strike. In
response to this, he said: The point that must be made is that with or
without strikes, the entire education sector including secondary and
primary education has already been destroyed and shutdown in terms of
standard and quality that it is simply a pipe dream to imagine any
serious learning is going on at any point in time in any of our public
We are yet to distribute the N100 billion —VCs
After Seven full weeks of the widely reported announcement of the
distribution of N100 billion to 59 public universities, as part of
Federal Government's commitment to fund the implementation of
identified needs of the nation's public universities, there are
indications that red-tapism or perhaps, insincerity of purpose has
hindered the funds from getting to universities.
Grapevines from universities authorities, comprising of Vice
Chancellors reveal that the monies have been gotten through the usual
official policy statements and memo, but not in cash or cheque.
For the avoidance of doubt, this said money was 'gallantly' shopped by
the Governor Gabriel Suswam-led Presidential Implementation Committee
on Needs Assessment of Nigerian Universities within 16 days of its
inauguration (July 26- August 1, 2013).
If this whooping N100 billion was shopped from acclaimed sources like
the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other
government agencies, within 16 days of round-the-clock work; if the
sharing formular which will be presented below was arrived at within
16 days of heated debates and counter debates, should there be any,
then the expedient question is why the delay in implementation, that
is disbursement to the nation's decrepit universities after the 'nice'
sharing formular, which has been made available to Vanguard Learning.
In the words of one of the revered sources contacted, Prof. Ukachukwu
Awuzie, Ag. VC, Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri, who was the
immediate-past National President of the Academic Staff Union of
Universities (ASUU): "FG has only sent us a memo through the Ministry
of Education that IMSU is getting N650 million from the funds. Until
we get the alert into the university's account, we will know how
sincere, government is…"
Similarly, Prof. John Obafunwa, Vice Chancellor, Lagos State
University (LASU), Ojo disclosed that the N1.200 billion earmarked for
the university has not been paid as cheque or cash into the
university's account.
After about one month, what is preventing universities official
accounts from getting the e-credit alerts.
According to the allocation, which grapevines say was based on
"students' population and the depth of infrastructural decadence
glaring individual universities in the face," of the 40 National
Universities Commission (NUC) officially recognized Federal
Universities, 27 will get varying amounts from the fund, leaving out
13. For State universities, of the 39 officially recognized, 34 will
get varying amounts, leaving out 5.

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