Day 128: Minister says ASUU may soon resume but NASU and SSANU have other plans

Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, responding to questions from newsmen after the Federal Executive Council meeting (FEC) assured that efforts were ongoing to resolve the back and forth between it and ASUU and other university-based unions over payment platforms soon.

He said contrary to insinuations that the government had ignored ASUU, there have been a series of meetings between all parties with the next one coming up on Thursday.

The Minister said that the meeting on Thursday is expected to look at the progress report by the relevant bodies handling the crisis including NITDA on how far it has gone with the integrity test on UTAS and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System, U3PS, proposed by SSANU and NASU.

The Federal Government also distanced itself from reports that it was contemplating a different payment platform for the various trade unions in tertiary institutions.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had insisted on using the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) it created, claiming that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was short-changing the teachers.

The government, in March, said UTAS has failed three integrity tests.

Recall that public universities were shut down on February 14 by ASUU and the other university-based unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutions (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) joined in the strike over the inability of the government to address their concerns.

Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee of SSANU and NASU and allied institutions have extended its ongoing strike by two months.

This was made known Wednesday, in a statement signed by the National President, SSANU, Mohammed Ibrahim, and General Secretary, Peter Adeyemi.

The statement partly read, ‘‘In view of the fact that government is still a long way from effectively resolving the issues in contention, it is only expedient that we allow the process to be fully concluded before directing the end of the strike. Consequently, you are hereby informed that the strike has been extended by two months, within which we are hoping that all the contentious issues would have been effectively laid to rest. The two-month extension is with effect from Friday, June 24, 2022.’’

The ASUU strike has lasted 128 days now and there are strong indications that it will continue for more days, as we have had in the past. And, like every other administration since the democratic dispensation began in 1999, failure of the education sector is a watchword.

This plays out every administration and will continue until responsible leadership is put in place.

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