THE Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday, insisted that its members cannot be punished with a “no work, no pay” policy for the Federal Government’s insensitivity and insincerity to the prolonged strike.
Chairman of the union in the Federal University of Technology, FUTA, Akure, Prof. Olayinka Awopetu, said this during a protest rally to express their dissatisfaction over the Federal Government’s half salary payment after its eight months strike.
Awopetu said it is unfair for members of the union to bear the brunt of the failure of the government.
He said: “We did not go on strike because we wanted to go on strike, or happy to go on strike, but because the government failed to do its part, so we can’t be punished for that.
“If you go on legal strike, you shouldn’t be punished for it but we are being punished by withholding our salaries. So why is the government now criminalising a strike that was forced on our members?
“The government wants to turn the table against ASUU, but they’ve failed this time because what we are fighting for is in the public domain.
“They’ve been telling half-truths in a bid to play the divide-and-rule game.
“It is illegal for the Federal Government to casualise the academics in Nigeria. This protest is to let everyone know that ASUU in general and ASUU FUTA, in particular, is condemning in entirety the casualisation of academics and the criminalization of the illegal strike.
“The way forward for the federal government is to do the needful, pay us our money, the job they said we didn’t do is the job we are doing now and we will continue to do the job.”
Ngige must be removed
Similarly, the ASUU chapter of the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to remove the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige over the protracted ASUU/government negotiation on revitalizing University education.
The Union said this after its congress held inside the University campus.
Members of the union were armed with placards with inscriptions such as ‘Lecturers are not slaves, ‘Invest in Education’, ‘A nation that values education is a nation that develops’, ‘IPPIS is a scam’, among others.
Addressing newsmen at the protest ground, OAU ASUU Chairman, Professor Tony Odiwe said lecturers were not employed solely to teach but to also conduct research.
His words: “When we are employed, our condition of service is not solely on teaching; we have three components including research and community service. We only withdrew one of the services which is teaching.
“We are not interested in who the minister is, we are interested in doing what is right. If Chris Ngige is not doing what is right or turned our negotiation with Federal Government into a personal issue or an ego fight, then the government should remove him.”