The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has threatened to embark on indefinite strike if the FG’s renegotiation team refuses to sit up.
Rising from its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Calabar yesterday, ASUU leadership said the association could no longer guarantee that its members would continue to work with Wole Babalakin-led renegotiating team.
Babalakin is negotiating on the part of the federal government.
Addressing journalists at the University of Calabar, ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said that Babalakin had become a stumbling block to peaceful negotiations and implementation of the union’s demands.
Ogunyemi warned that the union might soon embark on strike if Babalakin was not replaced.
He said: “Recall that in January 2017, the NEC meeting of ASUU held at Bayero University, Kano, welcomed the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team to enter into a renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement, which was long overdue.
“The renegotiation commenced in March 2017. At the inauguration of the committee, the Minister of Education declared that he expected the renegotiation to be completed within six weeks. Since then, for over 14 months, our union has had a series of negotiation meetings but it has been a fruitless exercise.
“The Chairman of the Government Renegotiating Team, Dr Wale Babalakin, has constituted himself into a stumbling block in the process of the renegotiation. He has arrogantly exhibited the “I-know-it-all” attitude and also conducted himself as a judge, instead of a negotiator.
“With unwarranted arrogance, he has disregarded the cardinal principles of collective bargaining, deliberately slowed the process and made a mockery of the core tenets of industrial democracy. He has arrogated to himself the power to decide matters that should be collectively debated, analysed, and agreed upon by the two parties.
“He has also consistently attempted to substitute core constitutional provisions of Nigeria on education, including university education, by market principles of trading in and purchasing higher education, putting Nigerian children in debt in order to acquire higher education. This situation is not acceptable to the union.
“ASUU has tried through several entreaties to make him see reason and return to the path of collective bargaining and respect for the constitutional provisions on education to no avail. Since March 2017, a period of over fourteen (14) months, the discussion has hovered only on funding and Babalakin’s insistence that a tuition regime must be introduced into the public universities in Nigeria.”
He said NEC took reports on the status of the implementation of the September 2017 FGN/ASUU Memorandum of Action and the FGN/ASUU renegotiation which commenced in March 2017 and resolved to condemn in strong terms the Federal Government’s failure to faithfully implement many items on the 2017 MoA.
The NEC also approved the decision of the ASUU team to withdraw from the re-negotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement as a result of Babalakin’s insistence on the commercialisation of tertiary education in the country.
They also resolved to update ASUU members on the failure of the government to keep its promises on the renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement and September, 2017 MoA and meet in due course to consider the next line of action.
The National Trustee of ASUU, Dr. Dipo Fashina and a former President of the NLC, Hassan Sunmonu, said the union had been patient with the committee, but that had been overstretched, saying “anything can happen anytime from now if our letter to the Minister of Education is not properly addressed.”