By Christiana Ekpa
The national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has promised to review its ongoing two weeks warning strike it commenced on Monday, following the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila.
ASUU National President, Prof Abiodun Ogunyemi, said at a meeting convened by the Speaker at the National Assembly on Thursday that the union will consult with its various structures across different universities in the country and get back to the Speaker “early next week.”
Disturbed by the strike action ASUU embarked upon, Gbajabiamila convened a meeting with the leadership of the union, ministries of labour and productivity and education, among other stakeholders with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problem of the industrial action.
Gbajabiamila expressed concern that the ASUU strike has unintending consequences that could only be imagined, noting that Nigerian students should not be allowed to face disruption in their academic pursuits.
On the agreement reached between ASUU and the Federal Government in 2009, Gbajabiamila wondered why the government could not meet its commitment more than 10 years after it signed the document.
On the issue of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), which ASUU has kicked against, Gbajabiamila appealed to the union to bend over backwards and support any government’s efforts at fighting corruption in the country.
Gbajabiamila then appealed to ASUU to, in the interest of Nigerian students, put on hold its ongoing two weeks warning strike so that a solution could be found.
He also promised that the House would do everything within its powers to appropriate funds that would take care of the financial demands of ASUU, urging the union to work closely with relevant committees of the House to achieve that.
Gbajabiamila suggested that the House should be part of the scheduled meeting between ASUU and the Federal Ministries of Labour and Productivity and Education, saying the chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund would attend the meeting. The suggestion was welcomed.
“If the National Assembly is to be captured under IPPIS, and we as members of the National Assembly say no, what will the public, including ASUU, say? If ASUU can come up with excuses, others too may do that.
ASUU President, Prof Ogunyemi, said it has become public knowledge that government could not respect the 2009 agreement it reached with the union, which resulted in disagreement with the union.
He said the issue of IPPIS that government directed universities to be part of is against the practice all over the world and that would make Nigerian universities to be local in nature.
When government first notified ASUU of IPPIS in 2013, he said, the union opposed it, and that government said a joint committee would be constituted to look at the areas of disagreement but that nothing was heard until July last year when the issue came up again.