The Federal Government has said that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, have no justification for embarking on another round of strike action, claiming that it has responded to all the demands of the lecturers within the limit of resources available.
The Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Ben Bem-Goong, stated this while speaking with Tribune Online in Abuja, in reaction to strike threats credited to the National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke.
DAILY NIGERIAN reports that some section of the media had reported Mr Osodeke as saying that the N30bn Revitalisation Fund and N22.5bn Earned Academic Allowance to the tune of N52.5bn released by the Federal Government was not enough to deal with the challenges facing the university system.
Mr Osedeke was further quoted to have said that there was a possibility that the union would still go on strike, unless the government addressed its demands, including the 2009 agreement.
Reacting, the spokesperson of the Ministry said strike was unnecessary as it has done more harm than good to the University system.
He noted that a full academic calendar was lost to the last nine-month industrial action by ASUU, which most universities are struggling on how to remedy.
He said: “I think every Nigerian except ASUU has agreed that we should look at other options of dealing with the issues the Union has raised over the decades.
“We have lost full academic session to strike; every university has lost that. ASUU itself should think outside the box. If you are doing the same thing every year and it’s not giving you expected result, you should think of doing it differently.
“For 20 years, 2 decades we are inundated with strikes, so, it is my considered opinion that ASUU should look beyond strike,” he said.
He lamented that ASUU has been using the earned allowance, he simply described as overtime allowance to derail the university system with frequent strike action.
He said earned allowances as demanded by ASUU, is simplify overtime allowance that had been stopped in the regular civil service.
“It is actually overtime allowance because the lecturers are saying we have worked some extra loads other than our normal schedules.
“Yes, in the regular civil service, we have stopped overtime allowances but in the academics earned allowance it is still a topical issue.
“But if you ask me, ASUU is perpetrating the issue of earned allowance to continue to derail the education sector, especially at the University level.
“The truth is that extant rules in academics dictate that Universities should employ the best of their hands in every department every session.
“Every department retains that student that made First Class and if you continue to go with that over time or in no time at all, you would have taken out the issue of one lecturer working in so many institutions and saying, I have done overtime.
“Regular lecturers would have been available but the universities have deliberately refused to implement that, retaining the best of their brains in every department aimed at ensuring that they have sufficient manpower,” he said.