The much anticipated decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on whether to commence an indefinite strike action or offer another ‘lifeline’ to the Nigerian government will be taken at another meeting of the national executive council (NEC) members scheduled to commence by 12 midnight on Sunday.
The meeting, which is tagged “NEC for NEC”, is an extension of an ongoing two-day meeting of NEC members which has been reviewing the positions of each of the branches of the union on the sensitive matter of whether to declare industrial action or not.
The NEC meeting, which commenced on Saturday at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, was a follow-up to earlier public engagement and sensitisation congress meetings of the various branches which necessitated declaration of lecture-free periods across the various campuses.
The union had earlier hinted it would communicate its decision to the media on Monday.
A source among the leadership of the union on Friday informed some journalists to be prepared for an impromptu briefing by the union on Monday.
Meeting venue changed abruptly
Meanwhile, the ongoing NEC meeting, which had commenced on Saturday at the Ade Ajayi Auditorium in UNILAG, was abruptly relocated to Tayo Aderinokun Lecture Hall near the university’s guest house on Sunday over what a reliable source described as the fear of bugging of the auditorium by secret agents of the Nigerian government.
“You know the matter at hand is very sensitive and ASUU has been very careful. So it got information that the venue had been bugged over night and had to relocate to another venue to continue its meeting on Sunday. It is a serious thing. But the final decision will be taken by midnight today (Sunday),” a member of ASUU who does not want to be quoted told our reporter on Sunday evening.
The source added that it was clear that the majority of the members of NEC had opted for the declaration of an indefinite strike action, citing what he termed the poor commitment of the government to the union’s demands.
One of the lingering issues between the government and the union include renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, which ASUU believed ought was meant be reviewed every three years.
However, nine months after the renegotiation concluded in May 2021, ASUU said the government has refused to sign and implement the contents of the renegotiated agreement.
Also on the list is the stalled adoption of University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) in replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) that is currently in use for the payment of the union members’ salaries.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had in December said the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) gave positive feedback on UTAS but that there are little observations to be addressed.
However, ASUU alleged that the IPPIS is found to be marred with irregularities.
ASUU is also demanding the regulation of the proliferation of state-owned universities by governors who it alleges owe staff salaries and payment of university subventions, leaving the universities with failing infrastructures.