ASUU laments members’ sack, salary suspension, non-completion of renegotiated FGN/ASUU 2009 pact 

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Owerri Zone has raised the alarm over sack, salary suspension, harassment and other forms of maltreatment of its members in certain universities in the country.

The body also expressed disappointment over the yet-to-be completed renegotiated FGN – ASUU 2009 agreement 15 years after it was signed.

Addressing newsmen on Monday in Awka, Zonal Coordinator, Dennis Aribodor listed affected institutions to include Federal University of Technology (FUTO) Owerri, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) Igbariam, Kogi State University (KSU) Ayingba, Ebonyi State University (EBSU) Abakaliki, Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Ekpoma and others.

He regretted that such injustices were mettted to its members following their stand against abnormalities rocking the institutions.

He called on visitors and stakeholders to the affected universities to urgently wade into the situations and reverse such injustices orchestrated by the concerned Vice Chancellors to its members.

He said, “In this country, once you stand on what is right, due process and justice, you’re marked for destruction. That’s just our problem with these universities. 

“An example is the appointment of a serving Minister as a professor without being a staff which we described as aberration. 

“As a result, our members have been harrrassed, including barred from attending statutory meetings illegally. The next alternative is to go violence which we don’t believe in. 

“In COOU, our member was beaten up and suspended without pay for fighting illegalities, including exam malpractices.

“But we’ll continue to challenge abnormalities as academics because that’s our calling, speaking, teaching and preserving the truth, no matter whose ox is gored.”

According to Aribodo, the press conference was to alert the public of Federal and State Governments’ continued and consistent ploys to undermine existence and integrity of nation’s public universities through their systemic neglect, acute under-funding and bastardization of university autonomy leading to the inability of Nigerian universities to compete globally. 

“The FGN – ASUU Agreement signed in October, 2009 summed up the four key issues as follows: Conditions of service, Funding, University Autonomy and Academic Freedom and other matters related to regulations, working environment, etc. 

“This agreement was meant to arrest brain drain, attract best brains to the Nigerian University system from across the world and to position Nigerian public universities for global competitiveness. 

“It is worrisome to note that this agreement that was designed to be renegotiated after three years (2012) did not start until 6th March, 2017 and is yet to be completed till date (fifteen years after the agreement was signed). 

“It is on this note that ASUU Owerri Zone is crying out through this press conference against governments concerted efforts to annihilate public universities in Nigeria in favour of the commercialization of university education via private universities owned by politically exposed individuals.

“The federal government under Goodluck Jonathan set up a committee on Needs Assessment of all  Nigerian public (federal and state) universities as stepping stone towards revitalization of government-owned universities. The Committee recommended an immediate and massive injection of a total of N1.3 trillion to arrest the infrastructural decay in the institutions. That government commenced the implementation of the recommendations by releasing the first tranche of N200 billion in 2013. Unfortunately since then, only a paltry sum of N50 billion has been released till date by the government. This is unacceptable.

“You can agree with ASUU that the ILO Conventions guarantees the right of trade unions to use strike action as a means of demanding for what is due to their members. The continuous withholding of the three and half months of withheld salaries of lecturers in federal universities and 4-12 months of some lecturers in Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COOU) as a result of ASUU national struggle  for the revitalization of universities in 2020 and 2022, despite the fact that the lecturers had since completed all their duties affected during the strike is unacceptable and should be urgently addressed.

“It is sad to note that the Federal Government is yet to pay the backlog of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) in federal universities while the Anambra and Imo State Governments have refused to pay EAA to their lecturers in COOU and Imo State University (IMSU), respectively as obtainable in state universities in other parts of the country. The neglect of lecturers in COOU and IMSU is unprecedented.  It is heartbreaking that lecturers in COOU who have given their all to the services of the universities retire without pension. They are left to go home and wait for their death. 

“In both COOU and IMSU, the current wage award of 25% and 35% to public university workers, consequential minimum wage increase, palliative for fuel subsidy removal and arrears of CONUASS are yet to receive governments’ attention. Till this moment, the FGN-ASUU Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2020 which provided for mainstreaming of EAA into monthly salaries from is yet to be implemented in the state-owned universities in Anambra and Imo States.

“We’re going to reconvene soonest as a national body to appraise the situation and take decision,” he added.

Other ASUU bosses in attendance were those of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam (COOU), Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Imo State University Owerri (IMSU), Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU) and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka (NAU).

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