By G9ija

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its eight-month-old industrial action.

The union decided to suspend the strike during a meeting of its leadership that started on Thursday night and lasted into the early hours of Friday.

In a statement by the president of the union Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU said the decision followed a series of appeals by Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari, and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representative Femi Gbajabiamila.

“While appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed,” the statement added.

“However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well-meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022.

“Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14th October 2022.”

The meeting was called by the union to determine its next line of action after its state branches met over the Court of Appeal ruling last week. ASUU is expected to make a formal announcement about the suspended strike this morning.

Prior to the meeting, the Court of Appeal had ordered ASUU to suspend the strike before its appeal of the ruling ordering lecturers to resume work can be heard.

Members of the union’s National Executive Committee, which comprises the chairmen of the state chapters and members of the national executive, attended the meeting at the ASUU National Secretariat in Abuja.

The Issues

A photo combination of ASUU president and Labour Minister Chris Ngige.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 this year.

When the lecturers began the strike – initially a four-week industrial action – ASUU said it was pushing for better funding of universities as well as improved welfare for its members based on several deals reached with the government.

ASUU was particularly asking for the release of the revitalisation funds for schools, the payment of earned academic allowances to members, and the release of whitepapers from the reports of the presidential visitation panels. It also demanded the usage of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a payment platform for university workers as against the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).

Following the Federal Government and ASUU’s inability to reach a deal, the union kept extending the industrial action before making it indefinite in August.

In the wake of the tussle, the Federal Government registered two factional unions – the Congress of Nigerian University Academics (CONUA) and the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA).

But ASUU had said it was not bothered about the government’s move, describing it as “illegal”.

Read Osodeke’s press statement below:
PRESS RELEASE

13 October, 2022

ASUU SUSPENDS ITS STRIKE ACTION

  1. The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) held an emergency meeting at the Comrade Festus lyayi National Secretariat, University of Abuja, Abuja, on Thursday, 13th October, 2022. The meeting reviewed developments since the Union declared an indefinite strike action on 29th August, 2022.
  2. During the intervening period, the Minister of Labour and Employment, through a referral, approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) for the interpretation of “the provision of sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 18 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, whether the on-going prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which started since 14th February, 2022 is legal even after statutory apprehension by the Minister of Labour and Employment?” In addition, he asked for an interlocutory order against the continuation of the strike.
  3. The National Industrial Court in its wisdom gave an order compelling ASUU to resume work pending the determination of the substantive suit. Given the nature of the order, and in the opinion of our counsel, there was the need to appeal the interlocutory injunction granted against our Union at the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal acknowledged the validity of the grounds of the Union’s appeal but still upheld the order of the lower court and ordered our Union to comply with the ruling of the lower court as condition precedent for the appeal to be heard.
  4. NEC noted the series of meetings with the leadership of the House of Representatives led by the Hon. Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, as well as intervention efforts of other well-meaning Nigerians both within and outside government and the progress made so far.

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  1. NEC deliberated on the recommendations of the Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila-led Committee within the framework of the FGN/ASUU’s Memorandum of Action(MoA) of 2020 on the contending issues that led to the strike action. For

the avoidance of doubt, the issues include: Funding for Revitalisation of public universities ⚫ Earned Academic Allowances

Proliferation of public Universities

Visitation Panels/Release of White Papers

⚫ University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a broad spectrum software to stop illegality and provide for an alternative

payment platform in the university system. Renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement

  1. While appreciating the commendable efforts of the leadership of the House of Representatives and other patriotic Nigerians who waded into the matter, NEC noted with regrets that the issues in dispute are yet to be satisfactorily addressed.
  2. However, as a law-abiding Union and in deference to appeals by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well meaning Nigerians, ASUU NEC resolved to suspend the strike action embarked upon on 14th February 2022. Consequently, all members of ASUU are hereby directed to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from 12:01 on Friday, 14th October, 2022.

Thank you.

Emmanuel Osodeke President

13th October, 2022