February 21, 2024

Sign Briggs C’ttee renegotiated agreement now, avert strike action – ASUU to FG

Life after retirement bleak without pensions, ASUU tells Gov Kefas
By Bashir Bello

The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU Kano zone on Wednesday called on the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration to as a matter of urgency sign the Federal Government and ASUU 2009 renegotiated agreement led by the late Emeritus Prof Nimi Briggs committee in order to avert looming strike action.

The Zonal Coordinator, Comrade Abdulkadir Muhammad who made the call while addressing newsmen in Kano, said failure of the government to sign the agreement has further deepened the crisis in the public universities and igniting industrial disharmony.

Muhammad said, “the Union has been without a singed renegotiated agreement with the FGN since 2009 when a dollar was exchanged for N146.7 as against the current exchange rate of a dollar to about N1,900, where the salary is eroded by more than 90%. The deplorable working conditions of academics, coupled with the pathetic state of public universities, compelled the Union to engage in persistent call for the review of the FGN/ASUU 2009 Agreement, which resulted in the setting up of the Wale Babalakin Joint Renegotiation Committee in 2017. The insincerity and insistence of the Chairman of the Committee, Wale Babalakin, on the introduction of tuition fees through the Education Bank stalled the process of the renegotiation.

“Consequently, the Renegotiation Committee was reconstituted in 2020, with Professor Munzali Jibril as its Chairman, who fast-tracked and completed the process and produced a Draft Agreement within three months. However, government refused to sign the document. Subsequently, the FGN appointed the late Emeritus Prof Nimi Briggs to replace Prof Jibril as the Chairman of the Committee. Renegotiation with Briggs was completed within six months but the government again sabotaged and truncated the process at the point of finalizing the Draft Agreement.

“It is important to let Nigerians know that from 2021 till date, the document has remained in its draft form. The failure of the government to sign the Agreement has further deepened the crisis in the public universities, igniting industrial disharmony.

“The academics in Nigerian universities are among the least paid even in Africa. The salary of a fresh Graduate Assistant in a Nigerian public university is less than N100,000 and a Professor earns, averagely, N416,000 ($218 down from $2,836 in 2009) in the face of this hyperinflation that literally destroys Nigeria’s economy. Unfortunately, even the unilateral award of 35% and 25% (take it, or leave it) to professors and academics on other ranks, respectively by the insensitive Buhari-led administration remains a mirage.

“Therefore, ASUU calls on the President Tinubu-led administration to immediately set in motion the process of upward-reviewing and signing of the Nimi Briggs Committee’s renegotiated draft agreement as a mark of goodwill and to forestall industrial crisis and restore hope for Nigeria’s public universities.

“The Zone wants to send a message to Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that the only way to end strike is for the Government to faithfully implement the contents of the Agreement it freely signed with the unions through collective bargaining,” he said.

On the State of nation, the ASUU Kano Zonal Coordinator lamented on the current hardship faced by Nigerians following the government’s removal of subsidy and implementation of the floating exchange rate regime.

Muhammad however called on the government to reverse the policies which he described as anti-people and that which has impoverished Nigerians.

“The ASUU Kano Zone calls on the Government to, with immediate effect, reconsider and reverse these insensitive and counter-productive neoliberal policies. The Government should know that these anti-people policies are increasingly impoverishing Nigerians.

“Since the removal of petrol “subsidy” and implementation of the floating exchange rate regime, Nigeria’s socio-economic crises have worsened, leading to pockets of spontaneous protests by market women and other oppressed Nigerians who are struggling to earn livelihood. The political class, out of sheer lack of enlightened self-interest, are irresponsive to the suffering of the Nigerian workers and toiling masses. They also seem not to have any genuine and credible solutions to the country’s socio-economic malaise nor do they care. But while Nigerians wallow in misery, those who have plunged them into this condition enjoy their profligate lifestyle increasingly. The Kano Zone wishes to urge Nigerian workers and masses to take cognizance of this obnoxious attitude of the political elites,” the ASUU Kano Zonal Coordinator, Muhammad however stated.