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Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, of misinforming Nigerians on issues surrounding the union’s ongoing six-month-old industrial action.

 


The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has accused the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, of misinforming Nigerians, especially on issues surrounding the union’s ongoing six-month-old industrial action.


The Lagos Zone of the union, during a statement issued on Wednesday and signed by the zonal coordinator, Olusiji Sowande, debunked the minister’s claim that a gathering had been scheduled between the teachers’ body and government representatives to assess the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) developed by the union as an alternate to the government’s controversial Integrated Payroll and Personnel data system (IPPIS).


The union also denied the minister’s claim that the IPPIS is that the only reason for the union’s strike, and claimed that, “Dr. Chris Ngige was also economical with the reality by misinforming the general public that the govt has been paying the salaries of members of our union so far .”


The minister made the claims on Tuesday while appearing on Channels Television’s Politics Today, where he noted that the ministries of finance, education, labour and employment, and therefore the office of the accountant general of the federation will meet with ASUU to resolve the disagreement on IPPIS.


He said, “The issue of ASUU will soon come to an end for 2 reasons – ASUU has called the federal , to be represented by finance and therefore the refore the office of the accountant-general and the education ministry to return for the test.



“We are able to do this . After the Independence Day celebration, the four ministries and agencies involved will gather along side ASUU. we'll check out the UTAS. If there are shortcomings with IPPIS as complained which UTAS has corrected. What’s wrong about it? it's software, we'll check out it.


“Secondly, ASUU members are collecting their money since COVID-19 came and that i wrote a memo to Mr President that ASUU members are still Nigerians. Even the members have families that they look after . By upper week, we are getting to arrange for this demonstration.”


But in its response, ASUU said one month after the UTAS was produced and a letter addressed to Mr. Ngige’s ministry informing it of the event , it's yet to be acknowledged to not even talk about inviting the union to any meeting.


The statement reads in part; “The minister also misinformed the general public by narrowing down the problems in contention to our rejection of IPPIS which UTAS seeks to exchange . Other issues in contention that our union is currently on total, comprehensive and indefinite strike include failure of state to completely implement the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement and February 2019 Memorandum of Action with timelines for release of funds for the revitalisation of dilapidated infrastructure publicly universities, payment of outstanding earned academic allowances, conclusion of the renegotiation of 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, fixing of visitation panels to federal universities and proliferation of state universities.”


 

ASUU added that as against the minister’s claim on its members’ salary payments, “the government only paid our salaries up to June 2020. As of today, our members are being owed three (3) months salaries while in some universities our members haven't received salary for 6 (6) months.”


The union also alleged that the office of the accountant general of the federation has “criminally-withheld” five months check-off deducted from members’ salaries.


“We are therefore surprised that the minister could continue air to present information which he has not verified as truth to the unsuspecting public. the continued total, comprehensive and indefinite strike action by our union will continue if this propaganda and lies against ASUU persists,” ASUU added, whilst it urged well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the govt to deal with the matter fairly and quickly.


Background

On an equivalent date the federal shutdown academic institutions as a part of efforts towards addressing the coronavirus disease pandemic, ASUU on March 23 commenced industrial action over alleged shortcomings of IPPIS and therefore the failure of the federal to honour its 2019 agreement, among other matters.


ASUU also condemned the unending renegotiation of its 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, which had commenced in 2017 with the previous chairman of the governing council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Wale Babalakin, as chairman.


However, Mr. Babalakin recently resigned his membership of the renegotiation committee. This was contained during a recent letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari through the education minister, Adamu Adamu, announcing his resignation from both the governing council of the university and therefore the renegotiation committee.

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