Strike Looms In Nigerian Universities Over Agreement With Government
Another round of industrial action may commence soon in the university sector as the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, (SSANU) is accusing the Federal Government of failing to honour its own part of the agreement entered into with Non-teaching staff of Universities seven weeks after they suspended their strike.
Rising from its National Executive Council meeting at the Bayero University, Kano, SSANU appealed to well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to implement all agreements it freely signed with Joint Action Committee of NAAT, NASU and SSANU to avert another round of industrial crisis in our Universities.
In a communique signed by the National President, Comrade Samson Chijioke Ugwoke and the National Public Relations Officer, Abdussobur Salaam, the union also accused the government of fragrantly disobeying judgement of the National Industrial Court judgment on University Staff Schools.
The union expressed disappointment at the failure of Federal Government to implement some aspects of the 2009 Agreement and other Memoranda of Understanding it freely entered into with University based non- teaching Staff Unions.
It warned that Nigerians should not blame the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NAAT, NASU and SSANU if it resumes the suspended nationwide industrial action, because seven (7) weeks after the last Memorandum of Understanding signed by Government and the Unions, Government has failed to honor its own part of the bargain
It said further that “it has become the penchant of Government to choose which court judgments to obey and which to disregard. In cases where an attempt is made to obey court judgments, implementation is done selectively and at whim.
“NEC decries a situation where the union followed legitimate processes to correct an anomaly and after judgment was given, Government chose to treat with contempt and implement in breach, as is the case with University Staff Schools, where various offices of government have issued circulars which run contrary to the decision of the court. It notes that this development is unbecoming of a democratic government supposedly run under the rule of law and the non implementation of court judgments by the government is an invitation to anarchy”.
The union also expressed concern about the proliferation of Universities and the “rate of approvals granted for the establishments of universities by Government and observed that the establishment of universities have almost become like constituency projects as almost every Senator seems to be sponsoring a bill for the establishment or upgrade of an institution to a University in his or her constituency and that almost every week, the Federal Executive Council approves the establishment of a new University.
“NEC notes that though the number of universities on ground may have challenges meeting up with the increasing admission needs of the country, the solution is not the proliferation of universities.
“Government should rather improve the funding and infrastructures of existing universities so as to increase their carrying capacities and the number of students they can admit. Government should also place premium on internal controls to stem the growing tide of corruption in our universities, indiscipline, academic fraud, sex for marks and other ills that have plagued the university system in recent years.”
On the decision of the Federal Executive Council barring federal universities from charging tuition fees, the union said while the decision is commendable, government must find a way of stopping university management from spreading the fees across other ancillary fees such as Acceptance Fees, Caution Fees, Medical Fees, among others.