The Academic Staff Union of Universities said late on Wednesday that its members should not be held responsible if there is any disruption in the university system.
This, the union said, was because the Federal Government had not shown commitment in carrying out the 2019 Memorandum of Action.
The ASUU National President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, stated this at a briefing in Abuja while giving an update on the ongoing renegotiation with the government and to clear the air over the N25bn confirmed by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to have been approved for universities.
Ogunyemi said the N25bn was meant to be a part-payment of the Earned Academic Allowances and should have been released between February 15 and 28, 2019, as agreed. But this was not done.
He said, “Since information on the amount mentioned in the media went round, the ASUU has been inundated with enquiries on the union’s perspective to the story.
“Funding for the revitalisation of public universities has for years been of very high priority to ASUU.
“Reaching agreement with the Federal Government has often been a frustrating journey for our union. It is often marked with protests, strikes and requires a conscious and focused engagement. The 2001 agreement, which gave birth to the 2009 agreement, was not an exemption. The exception here is the personality leading the government negotiation team.
“The current leadership of the government team clearly lacks the academic disposition and humility needed to undertake such task. We have written the Minister of Education recently that with Dr Wale Babalakin, we may go nowhere. And with the current approach of Dr Babalakin in the ongoing negotiation, the future of Nigerian universities is in jeopardy.
“We call on Nigerians to prevail on Dr Babalakin to embrace a change of attitude in the interest of Nigerian children whose parents cannot afford the cost of a highly priced privatised university system.
“Our members enjoy their work and hate to see any disruption in the smooth running of our universities. However, the level of frustration occasioned by the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards meeting the terms of the 2019 Memorandum of Action that was freely signed with our union is increasingly becoming unbearable.
“We therefore call on all Nigerian patriots, parents and students, including the Nigeria Labour Congress, to prevail on the government to keep to the terms of our agreement. Otherwise, our union should not be held responsible for any disruption in the system.”