The Academic Staff Union of Universities’ National Executive Council will meet in Abuja today (Monday), according to Nationaltrail.
The meeting will take place at the union’s headquarters on the campus of the University of Abuja.
Leaders of the union told The Nationaltrail on Sunday that lecturers would decide whether to resume strike after the government paid half their salaries.
An emergency meeting will be held to discuss the payment of half-salaries to lecturers.
Some branches across the country have already held a congress to decide on the next steps.
The branch at the University of Jos, for example, resolved that lecturers remain at home pending the payment of withheld salaries by the government; the branch at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University resolved that the 2021-2022 academic session be canceled, and the Gombe State University ASUU resolved that students’ examination results be seized.
According to an NEC member who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “officially, the national body did not tell branches to hold congress, but many of them began calling meetings following the receipt of the government’s amputated salary.” We don’t have to go on strike; there are other options.”
When asked about his options, the member stated, “We can stay at home, we can seize results, or we can cancel the session because the government will not pay the withheld salary and we can’t work for months that we weren’t paid for.”
Meanwhile, ASUU’s lead counsel, Femi Falana (SAN), explained why the “no work, no pay” policy could not apply to ASUU in a statement issued on Sunday.
“According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the lecturers were paid in pro rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action,” Falana wrote in part.
“The Federal Government’s position is factually incorrect and legally deceptive.” Since the strike ended, public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021-2022 academic year is not canceled. As a result, students are currently attending lectures or writing exams that were disrupted during the ASUU strike. Given the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike, the doctrine of “no work, no pay” is completely inapplicable, as students who were not taught during the strike are now attending lectures and taking exams.
“Furthermore, it is public knowledge that members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors went on strike last year for two months.” The Federal Government dragged the striking doctors to the National Industrial Court, where the NARD was ordered to end the strike. As soon as the strike was called off, President Muhammadu Buhari abandoned the “no work, no pay” principle and ordered that salaries be paid for the two months that the strike had been in effect. In the interest of industrial harmony in the health sector, the President overruled Dr Chris Ngige on that occasion.
“In light of the foregoing, and because the Federal Government is legally required to treat all workers equally, ASUU members are entitled to be treated similarly to NARD members after they have called off their strike.” In other words, because members of ASUU and NARD have equal rights, obligations, and opportunities under the law, the lecturers should be paid their salaries that were withheld during the recently suspended 8-month strike.”
Corrections to CONUA’s salaries
Meanwhile, according to reliable sources, the FG has begun plans to pay the Congress of University Academics their withheld salaries and correct the “half salaries” paid to all lecturers under the newly registered union for the month of October 2022.
On Saturday in Abuja, sources familiar with the situation informed our correspondent.
According to Nationaltrail, lecturers under CONUA, like those under ASUU, had their salaries withheld after the FG invoked the ‘no work, no pay’ policy during the height of the ASUU strike.
Despite the fact that the CONUA coordinator, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, stated that its members were not on strike, the lecturers’ salaries were withheld.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, registered CONUA, a breakaway faction of the Academic Staff of Universities, in October 2022.
A source within the ministry told our correspondent, “The government will pay CONUA their withheld salaries, they wrote and it was proven that they did not join the strike.” It has also been approved by the minister. So, yes, they will be compensated. As for ASUU, I can’t say anything for the time being, but CONUA members can rest assured that their withheld allowances and salaries will be released.”
Sunmonu confirmed the news, saying, “We were told to start some processes with some ministries and agencies, which we have begun, and we are following up to ensure that the salaries are paid.”
In a statement issued on Saturday, Ngige defended the government’s decision, stating that the government decided to pay the lecturers “pro-rata.”
“They were paid pro rata for the number of days they worked in October, beginning with the day they suspended their strike.” Because you cannot pay for work that has not been completed, pro-rata was used. “Everyone’s hands are tied,” Ngige observed.
Dr Christian Opata, the ASUU branch chairman at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, expressed reservations about the Federal Government’s decision to pay lecturers half their salaries, but said there was no chance of another strike.
Opata stated that, while the issue is a national one, the national leadership would make a decision at tomorrow’s (today’s) meeting.
When asked if another strike was possible, Opata stated, “The issue is that there are opportunities for another strike.” I don’t see any opportunity for another strike for us. However, I cannot make that decision because the zone has not met, but the national leadership will meet tomorrow, so the national body will be in a position to make a decision by tomorrow, and because it is a national matter, all branches will abide by whatever decision is made there.”
In response to the suggestion of a half-salary payment, he stated, “I am not a mind reader; I don’t know what the government wants or what all other branches of ASUU might want to do.” However, in my opinion, the intervention of House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila did not produce the desired result.
The ASUU branch at the University of Maiduguri refused to reveal its decision on the potential resumption of the strike, stating that it would completely abide by the decision reached at the union’s National Executive Council meeting on Monday, November 7.
“I will not disclose those grievances and views to the press,” said UniMaid ASUU chairman Dr. Abubakar Saidu.
“As you can see, we resumed lectures and will begin exams on Monday (November 7), so the issue of whether or not the strike will be resumed after our NEC makes a final decision will be solely dependent on the government, the students, and their parents,” he said.
When asked if another round of industrial action had been decided, Dr Adeola Egbedokun, Chairman of the ASUU chapter at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said the decision would be announced by the union’s National Executive Council after a meeting on Monday.
In response to a text message from one of our correspondents, Egbedokun said, “You would hear from ASUU immediately after the Monday NEC meeting.”
Dr Biodun Olaniran, Chairman of the ASUU at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in Ogbomoso, said in response to a question about the next course of action regarding half-salary payments, “That will be determined at the NEC meeting.” The union’s NEC will decide how to respond to it.”
He stated that the next action would be decided by the union’s leadership, but he could not predict what it would be.
CVCNU, UNILAG, and ASUU respond
According to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, the National Executive Council of ASUU is interacting with it and deciding what to do next.
Prof. Lillian Salami, chairman of the CVCNU, told one of our correspondents, “We are still interacting and trying to meet with our local chapters and decide what we will do.” I can’t speak for the union, but it wouldn’t be too late to find out the outcome tomorrow.”
Dr Dele Ashiru, the chairman of ASUU at the University of Lagos, told one of our correspondents that the Southwest zone was waiting for the NEC to meet before deciding whether or not to go on strike. “Our meeting produced no results. There are no resolutions. “A resolution will be taken only when the NEC meets,” he added.
In an interview with The Nationaltrail in Jos on Sunday, ASUU chairman, the University of Jos, Dr Lazarus Maigoro, said, “For us in the University of Jos, we are not going to the classroom to teach the students but will remain at home.”
“That is not to say we have gone on strike.” Only the ASUU national body can decide whether or not its members should go on strike again.
“We will notify you when the union meets to make a decision on the matter.”