17 December 2013

Nigeria: It's Official: ASUU Suspends Strike, Orders Lecturers to Resume

The Academic Staff Union of Universities in Nigeria have suspended its five-month old strike, the News Agency of Nigeria is reporting.

The union announced the suspension of the strike in Minna, Niger state, after its National Executive Committee agreed on new funding terms with the Nigerian government.

The announcement comes with a huge relief to Nigerian university students who have been out of school since the strike began in July.

ASUU NEC has therefore directed its branches nationwide to resume work immediately and urges the Federal Government to implement their December 11 resolutions.

The lecturers had long been expected to call off their strike which commenced on July, after they signed an agreement with the federal government last week.

ASUU leadership were locked in a marathon meeting at the Federal University of Technology Minna between midday on Monday, and Tuesday morning.

A little after midnight, one of the lecturers came out of the meeting to address waiting journalists. He said the union would announce the outcome of its meeting at a press conference at noon.

ASUU signed an agreement with the Federal Government on December 11 after the presidency presented a proof of payment of N200 billion into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria as part of funding to offset the lecturers' demands.

The government has also promised to set up a committee to fully implement the agreement with the union.

The strike by ASUU followed government's inability to keep to an October 2009 agreement reached by both parties.

The agreement was reached after two years of negotiation between the lecturers and a government team appointed by the then Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili.

The Government team was led by the then Pro-chancellor, University of Ibadan, Gamaliel Onosode while ASUU's team was led by its then president, Abdullahi Sule-Kano.

The agreement reached at the negotiations included conditions of service for university lecturers, funding of universities, university autonomy and academic freedom, and issues that required legislation to implement.

It included details such as the breakdown of lecturers' salary structure, staff loans, pension, overtime, and moderation of examinations.

Part of the agreement dwelt on funding of universities where both parties agreed that each federal university should get at least N1.5 trillion between 2009 and 2011 while state universities, within the same period, should receive N3.6 million per student.

The agreement also had parts that asked the re-negotiation committee to ensure that at least 26 percent of Nigeria's annual budget was allocated to education, and half of that allocation to universities.

The agreement also asked that the 2004 Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, Act, and the National University Commission Act 2004, be amended.

Text of the suggested amendment bills - including suggestion for amendment of the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act 2004 - were provided in the agreements.

The agreement was signed by Bolanle Babalakin, the then chairman of Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities; Gamaliel Onosode, chairman of the re-negotiation committee; and Ukachukwu Awuzei, the then president of ASUU.

The agreement demanded a heavy financial commitment from the government and was an adaptation of an earlier agreement reached in 2001.

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