Nigerians are not eating – ASUU Bauchi Zone

The ASUU Bauchi Zone, of Academic Staff Union of Universities, has expressed concern about the fact that Nigerians are not getting enough to eat. This statement was made today at the University of Jos, where the Bauchi Zone held a world press conference. The Acting Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Nanmwa Voncir, spoke about the current state of the nation and the state of education under the administration of Tinubu.

The unions’ position on Deepening Socio-Economic Crisis was captured in the words.

“The free fall in the value of Naira vis-à-vis international currencies, the distortion in the petroleum sector, corruptly called “subsidy removal”, has ushered in a regime of high cost of transportation, unaffordable prices of commodities, job losses and ballooning joblessness, insecurity and general atmosphere of despair and despondency in the country. The failure of government to provide effective measures that would cushion the effect of its anti-poor policies has further pushed the Nigerian masses down the abyss of abject poverty and hardships. While calling on government to accelerate the process of arriving at a minimum living wage as demanded by the NLC, ASUU calls on the Nigerian Government to urgently review all IMF/World Bank-sponsored economic policies which are increasingly degrading the quality of life of Nigerians.”

The leadership also state that “For the avoidance of doubts, the FGN/ASUU agreement is made up of three important components: conditions of service; funding; and University Autonomy. ASUU’s demand for negotiated wages with the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is anchored on the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention No. 98 which provides the principle of collective bargaining. Following the FGN/ASUU Agreement reached in 2009 in which it was provided that it would be reviewed every 3 years, the Union has been without a renegotiated agreement with the FGN for 15 years. Recalled that, owing to the Union’s persistent call for the review of the 2009 Agreement, the Federal Government set up the Wale Babalakin-led Joint Renegotiation Committee in 2017. For reasons known to Government, and the insistence of the Chairman on the introduction of tuition fees, the process was stalled for over two years. Consequently, another renegotiation committee was reconstituted with Prof Munzali Jibril as Chairman. Under the new Chairman, much progress was made, as a Draft Agreement was ready within three (3) months. However, government refused to sign the draft agreement for some inexplicable reasons advanced by some agencies of government despite their involvement in the process.

Government again reconstituted the renegotiation Committee with the Late Emeritus Prof. Nimi Briggs as Chairman. Negotiation didn’t start until the government team extracted the mandate of its principal, the FGN to conclude the process which had dragged for more than four years. Renegotiation with Nimi Brigs was completed within six months. However, the then Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, acting the script of his master truncated the process at the point of signing the reviewed draft agreement. From 2021 till date, the document has remained in its draft form. The most obvious implication of the truncation of the renegotiation of the Agreement is that University teachers in Nigeria have been on the same salary regime since 2009 when the value of naira to a dollar was N120. Today, it is above N1,700. It is no longer news that the salaries of the highest paid professor, on the average, has been reduced to a meagre $210/month. This is one of the least in the world. Unfortunately, even the unilateral award of 35% and 25% by the despotic Buhari led administration, which had been activated through the National Wages, Salaries and Income Commission (NWSIC) through a circular, remains a promissory note more than one year after. If the ruling class truly love Nigeria, they must demonstrate realisation of the fact that no nation can truly be greater than the quality and commitment of its scholars. Funding has declined to near zero allocation from both the FGN and States to Universities. University Autonomy has been eroded very fast.

ASUU calls on the President Tinubu led administration to immediately set in motion the process for the review and signing of the Nimi Briggs led renegotiated draft agreement as a mark of goodwill and assured hope for Nigeria’s public Universities. Our members are tired of platitudes laced with disdain for intellectuals; only concrete steps to restore their eroded dignity and degraded lives can guarantee lasting industrial peace on our campuses”.

ASUU is also frowning at the Illegal Dissolution of Governing Councils of Public Universities, the union says  “We observed with dismay the continued attack and erosion of autonomy of public Universities, as enshrined in the Universities‟ Miscellaneous Act, through illegal dissolution of Governing Councils. Today, University Vice-Chancellors in connivance with the Federal and State Ministries of Education are illegally running the Universities. They have taken over the functions of the Councils through illegal contract awards, approval of promotions, and recruitments without following due process. ASUU condemns these anomalies in strong terms. It calls on State and Federal Governments to reverse themselves where Governing Councils were dissolved without serving their terms and reconstitute Councils whose tenures have expired without further delay.” On the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS), ASUU says. the Tinubu administration has announced the exit of tertiary institutions from the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) – a corrupt salary payment system imposed on Federal Universities by the immediate past Buhari-led government. ASUU has consistently rejected the payment platforms because it grossly erodes the autonomy of our Universities. However, the Union is worried that some elements inside and outside government may be planning to undermine the government directive in view of the ambiguity that currently surrounds our removal from IPPIS with particular reference to the so-called “new IPPIS” with which January salaries were paid a few days ago. As canvassed at the stakeholders‟ meeting held at the National Universities Commission (NUC) on 11th January, 2024, ASUU‟s position is very clear: Government should revert to quarterly releases of University funds to enable them design and implement their programmes in tandem with international best practices. This is the hallmark of a truly autonomous University system as obtained in the 1960s and 1970s. We demand an immediate compliance with the directive of the President of Nigeria removing tertiary Institutions from IPPIS.

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Nigerians are not eating – ASUU Bauchi Zone

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