The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday said the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government was afraid youths might take to the streets in protest against the ongoing industrial action by the union, and thus, was employing blackmail tactics to force lecturers back to class.
However, Akure Zone of ASUU, while declaring that no amount of blackmail would make it end the current industrial action, unless its members were paid their salaries, urged Nigerians to intervene in the impasse in the interest of the students.
The union also said the federal government was not interested in ending the strike and acceding to the demands of the striking lecturers.
It would be recalled that on March 23, 2020, ASUU declared a “total and indefinite strike” over the failure of the government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of Action (MoA) and over the lingering crisis on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
Five contentious issues were brought by the union in the 2019 MoA which are; proliferation of universities, revitalisation fund for universities, outstanding earned academic allowances, particularly by state governments, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, and establishment of visitation panels to universities.
The IPPIS crisis had erupted around October 2019, after the union berated the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation for threatening to withhold its salaries.
ASUU had also urged the Federal Government to adopt an alternative model to IPPIS, which are; the University Transparency and Accountability Solution.
The ASUU coordinator, Akure Zone, Prof Olu Olufayo, while addressing newsmen at the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, noted that the Federal Government had stopped negotiation with the lecturers until the recent eruption of violence during #EndSARS protests.
According to Olufayo said, “Our students have stayed at home for too long; they have been at home for almost a year now. Don’t forget we didn’t send them home. We embarked on strike before the advent of coronavirus.
“Don’t forget #EndSARS protests. It was at that point that the government realised that students should not have been idle. So, that must have made the government to ask us to resume negotiation. All through the period coronavirus was strong, we were not called for negotiation.
“But now, government wants us to return to class and engage the students. If we return to class now, what are we going to do there? I can’t teach when I don’t have money to feed myself.
“Also, during #EndSARS protest, the youths also said they wanted to end bad governance. Students in universities in Kwara State have given the government two weeks ultimatum to resolve issues with ASUU and reopen schools, otherwise they would return to the streets.
“That must have scared government and they told us to return to the classroom. But how can we resume without being paid?”