Friday, 23 August 2013

Latest on ASUU Strike: No retreat, No surrender - Fagge Insists

National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Nasir Fagge

…FG Commences Disbursement Of N100bn Intervention Fund Friday

The Federal Government says it would commence the disbursement of N100bn intervention fund to improve facilities in the nation's universities.

The Chairman of the Presidential NEEDS Assessment Committee of the Nigerian Universities, Governor Gabriel Suswan of Benue State announced this at the end of a negotiation among the stakeholders in Abuja.

The government's assurance came just as the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr. Nasir Fagge, spoke at a press conference in Lagos that the lecturers would continue their ongoing strike until the union's demands were met by the Federal Government.

Fagge made the declaration while addressing newsmen at the University of Lagos on the latest development on the strike.

He said: "I wish to state clearly our position so far in the whole process of the negotiations with government since the strike commenced.

"We are currently calling on government to meet our demands as presented in the agreements we both signed in 2009 and then we can start talking about any other form of re-negotiation.

"A lot of people are asking us to shift grounds by accepting government's offer of N30 billion and going back to class while we reach an agreement on when the next installments will be paid.

"I do not see that as being acceptable to us for now because we had made that mistake before, whereby only the salary component of the agreement was singled out and so we cannot afford to make such a mistake again.

"I want to make it categorically clear that until this whole agreement is fully implemented, we are not going to call off this strike."

"We are currently calling on government to meet our demands as presented in the agreements we both signed in 2009 and then we can start talking about any other form of re-negotiation"

The university lecturers had on June 30 embarked on what they described as a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike in public universities across the country.

It will be recalled that members of the union had before now been holding deliberations with representatives of government, headed by Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State on ways of resolving the strike.

Fagge explained that both government and ASUU had presented their demands in 2006 and after three years of negotiations, the parties succeeded in reaching an agreement in 2009.

According to the ASUU leader, agreements are not negotiable and that is why the union is insisting on the implementation of the agreements.

He said that members of the union were determined to prosecute the strike to its logical conclusion.

Fagge said that the implementation of the agreement was a cardinal issue that must be accomplished by the union as this would give the much needed impetus for transforming the country's ivory towers.

He noted that this would not only transform the universities but would equally make Nigeria visible on the global radar of development.

The unionist said that the struggle was not just to re-position the education sector, particularly the university system, but to salvage the country.

He said that members of academia had taken it upon themselves to reposition the country so that within the shortest possible time Nigeria would find itself amongst the comity of nations that would be adjudged by the international community as developed.

Fagge, however, regretted that contrary to subsisting operational procedures, about 75 per cent of the fund meant for the revitalisation of the universities were not going to be released directly to the union.

He said that the Suswam led-committee planned to hand it over to the National Universities Commission for implementation, adding that this was "unacceptable".

Fagge said: "Until and unless the Suswam committee gives the union a guarantee that it will not serve as another means of recycling TETFUND money or divert funds meant for universities, ASUU representatives will not continue to participate in the deliberation of the committee."

He said further that revitalisation of infrastructure in the country's universities was another key issue that needed immediate attention if the country intended to produce world-class graduates who would be presented as future leaders.

Fagge frowned at the desperation of some vice-chancellors who had undermined the ongoing efforts by the union to attract sustainable funding to support the operations of the universities.

He said: "Some examinations are being conducted under situations that undermine their credibility.

"The conduct of final degree examinations outside the campuses at UNILAG and the Lagos State University with improper invigilation under policemen cover, casts serious doubts on the authenticity of such examination.

"The same goes for post-UTME so far held in some universities.

"We want to appeal to our vice-chancellors to cease from further eroding the credibility of the academic profession, which the iconic status of their offices represents."

Fagge pleaded with parents and other stakeholders to join hands with the union in appealing to the Federal Government to implement the agreement, to create a better future for the Nigerian child.

He urged them to remain steadfast in the effort to jointly regain the lost glory of the country's once enviable citadels of learning.

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