By Ayobami Ife, Abeokuta
Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) Ago – Iwoye branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) on Thursday embarked on road walk in solidarity with their colleagues in federal Universities, whose salaries were withheld by the Federal Government of Nigeria(FGN).
The branch ASUU asked the FGN to pay the withheld salaries of their members without subjecting them to further suffering.
The OOU lecturers led by the branch chairman, Dr. Joel Okewale, who in their tens marched from the mini campus of the institution in Ago -Iwoye town to the entrance gate, deplored what they described as “brazen show of disdain for education and the intelligentsia” by the FGN.
They expressed worries that the Government had stepped up its anti- people and oppressive stance by criminalizing strike action and implementing its ‘no-work-no-pay’ on them.
Dr. Okewale who addressed the rally, said government’s self-determined
policy of ‘no-work-no-pay’ as well as criminalization of strike action,
is alien to the University system.
He said the Union had taken it as part of FGN’s imposed punishment on members for daring to challenge it to properly fund education and fulfil its promise to ASUU and the Nigerian children, adding that they would not be forced to take the ‘no-pay-no-work’ decision and still be expected to complete the 2020/21 academic session, which the FGN opted not to pay for.
He recalled ASUU suspended its 8- month strike action forced on her by the refusal of Government to honour the spirit and letters of the 2009 Agreement and the memoranda thereto, stressing that it is also no longer in contention that Government had failed to: resolve the matter of renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability solution (UTAS), to replace the discredited and irredeemably deficient Integrated Payroll and Personnel information System (IPPIS), release of White Papers on the Visitation to Federal Universities, release of Revitalization Funds, and stoppage of Proliferation of State Universities among others.
“…We would not be forced to take the ‘no-pay-no-work’ decision and still be expected to complete the 2020/21 session, which Government opted not to pay for. We would not add to the punishment being handed down to the Nigerian Children by government’s refusal to adequately educate them in order to be fully prepared for the challenges of nation building.
“Our Union finds it most uncharitable and an utter betrayal of the Nigerian nation going by the taxpayers’ money spent on the education of this crop of politicians and the entire ruling class that they represent. We commiserate with the Labour Minister Chris Ngige who turned from a mediator to a prosecutor just to be the servile face of the ruling elite in their efforts to keep the Nigerian masses uneducated or poorly educated and perpetually enslaved in their own country.
“We also equally commiserate with his collaborators in and outside government for their different roles in this struggle. Posterity would fish all of them out for their excrescencies in no distant future.Nonetheless, our Union, ASUU, remains committed to the ongoing struggle against the casualization of academic appointments. We would not relent until the poor budgetary expenditure to education is reversed and our universities are put on the pedestal for global reckoning.
“We are also committed to the struggle to liberate our country from the grip of neo-liberal organizations and their opportunistic collaborators in the country. We also use the opportunity to call on Federal and State governments to review their present poor funding of education and invest in our children for the sake of our country,” Okewale said.