To avert the impending industrial strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the House of Representatives, Tuesday, urged the federal government to honor its agreement with the body and pay lectures.
To consolidate on the move, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila invited the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Education and the President of ASUU for an interface.
The invitation came on the heels of a disclosure that the Federal Ministry of Finance had confirmed the availability of funds to implement the agreement, adding that the money was domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
A motion to this effect was however motioned by Hon. Julius Ihonvbere from Edo State.
Presenting the motion at the plenary, Ihonvbere noted with dismay that ASUU was threatening to proceed on another industrial action on a matter that has been on the front burner for so long- The implementation of negotiated and signed agreements with the Federal Government.
He said “The Federal Government has not been quite forthcoming, neither has it attached any consistent seriousness to the urgent need to reposition and refocus the education sector in line with our developmental objectives.
“ASUU President has threatened to call out his members across the nation, if all the issues, including those of unpaid academically earned allowances and the universities revitalisation fund are not addressed within a period of 3weeks.
“The future of Nigerian Students once again, will be negatively impacted, if this impending strike by ASUU is not nipped in the bud by the Federal Government.
“Incessant strikes disrupt the academic calendar and contribute significantly to the poor quality of graduates in the Country, with far-reaching implications for national development;
“Strikes encourage brain drain, migration of students abroad and low world rankings of our academic institutions;
Embarrassed that the Federal Government has, since, the last strike was called off in December, 2020 continued to pass the buck, make excuses and engage in diversions and distractions rather than meet the terms of Agreement it signed with the Union”.
Contributing to the debate on the motion, the House Deputy Chief Whip, Hon. Nkiruka Onyejeocha said that the delays so far experienced in the release of the funds were disappointing.
Also speaking, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai urged the federal government to honor the agreement with ASUU, saying that agreements were sacrosanct.
“We placed the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) on first line charge. It has reached a situation where we higher education on a first line charge.
“Also, we should question ourselves whether we are doing the right thing or doing the needful. COVID-19 put our children at home doing nothing for a long time and now we want to use our own hand to put them back at home.
“Many of us here went to school and the luxury of learning facilities. People were representing us then just as we are representing people. Now. Have we done the right thing?
“Mr. Speaker, the onus is on you to ensure that we do the right thing. Will you Preside over a process that will put our children at home? The leadership of the National Assembly should sit with the President and discuss the need to release these money. Let us listen to the cry of the people”, he said.
The Chief Whip, Hon. Tahir Mongunu said urged the House to activate its legislative powers to make more appropriation in the budget for such payment.
On his part, Hon. Nkem Uzoma Abonta warned against the grave implication of shutting down Universities.
“There is a saying that if you want to kill any nation, you first destroy it’s education. That is what is going on right now. Only the private schools are thriving in this country because of government policies.
“This is the time to rise up and save our education. I don’t believe that the money is available because if the money is available, why is it not released.
“Let us resolve now that the whole amount owed to the lecturers should be provided. Otherwise, we may be planning tye destruction of our education. They only thing we can do now is to provide the money in the budget and make sure it is released”, he said.
Adopting the motion which received an overwhelming support when put to vote, the House urged the government to urgently take all necessary measures to open a realistic negotiation with ASUU to stop the strike and implement the signed agreement in the interest of students, their parents, the education sector and the country.We are social! follow us on: