While calling off its eight months industrial action, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) noted that the Muhammadu Buhari-led regime was yet to accede to its demands.
The union’s president, Emmanuel Osodeke, on Friday announced the suspension of the strike which began on February 14 in deference to the ruling of the court.
Ahead of the announcement, ASUU’s National Executive Council had held an all-night meeting from Thursday till Friday morning where reports from zonal chapters of the body were considered.
Mr Osodeke stressed that the contending issues that led to the elongated strike has not been resolved but the union was returning to the classroom as a law-abiding body as well as the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who had been mediating a truce between the federal government and the lecturers’ body.
On Monday, Mr Gbajabiamila assured the striking lecturers at a meeting that President Buhari is committed to resolving the lingering strike on Tuesday.
ASUU called a rolling strike which later turned indefinite after talks broke down between the union and government representatives. The union said the government has failed to implement the agreement it reached with it in 2009, among which are revitalisation of the university system and improved salaries and adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability System.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, rushed to the National Industrial Court in September to obtain an injunction against ASUU.
On September 21, the National Industrial Court ordered that members of ASUU suspend the strike and return to the classroom. The judgement was appealed by the union.
Last Friday, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal ordered the union to suspend its eight-month strike before its appeal against the industrial court ruling can be heard.
In a bid to bring ASUU to its knees, the federal government last week registered two rival university unions, the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).
CONUA has since disassociated itself from any strike declared by ASUU.
Read the full statement by ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke below:
1. The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja, on Thursday, 13 October 2022 The meeting reviewed developments since the Union declared an indefinite strike action on 29 August 2022
2. During the intervening period, the Minister of Labour and Employment, through a referral, approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) for the interpretation of “the provision of sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap 18 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, whether the on-going prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which started since 14 February 2022 is legal even after statutory apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment?” In addition, he asked for an interlocutory order against the continuation of the strike.
3. The National Industrial Court in its wisdom gave an order compelling ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the substantive suit. Given the nature of the order, and in the opinion of our counsel, there was the need to appeal the interlocutory injunction granted against our Union at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal acknowledged the validity of the grounds of the Union’s appeal but still upheld the order of the lower court and ordered our Union to comply with the ruling of the lower court as a condition precedent for the appeal to be heard.
4. NEC noted the series of meetings with the leadership of the House of Representatives led by the Hon. Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as intervention efforts of other well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside government and the progress, made so far.
5. NEC deliberated on the recommendations of the Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila-led Committee within the framework of the FGN/ASUU’s Memorandum of Action(MoA) of 2020 on the contending issues that led to the strike action. For the avoidance of doubt, the issues include:
Funding for the Revitalisation of public universities
Earned Academic Allowances
The proliferation of Public Universities
Visitation Panels/Release of White Papers
University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a broad spectrum software to stop illegality and provide for an alternative payment platform in the university system. Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement
6. While appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed.
7. However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well-meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022. Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14 October 2022.
Emmanuel Osodeke, President
13 October, 2022