By Dayo Johnson – Akure
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) has lamented that the upward review in the pump price of petrol and electricity tariff by the Federal government was another added blow to the suffering Nigerian masses.
It equally frowned at the plans of the government to re-open universities across the country, describing it as an invitation to another wave of COVID -19 pandemic.
The Zonal coordinator of the Akure zone of the union, Prof Olu Olufayo at a press conference in Akure expressed disappointment at the silence posture of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) over the anti-masses policies of the federal government.
Olufayo after the union’s zonal meeting said the various increases in tariff will bring untold hardship on Nigerians who are still struggling with the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on them.
“The recent upward review in the pump price of petrol and electricity tarred has added another blow to the suffering of the masses of this nation.
“This definitely would affect all other sectors of the economy, be it transport, food items and school fees and other services, even when governments are not living to its expectations of regular payment of salaries of workers”
On the calls for the reopening of tertiary institutions in the country amidst COVID-19 pandemic, the union said despite the plan to reopen schools, “ASUU is not thinking of backing out of its struggle until government attend to their demands.
The union said apart from the government failure to attend to their demands, it noted that no higher institution of learning in the country can comply with the covid-19 protocols, due to the high number of students in these schools.
Olufayo noted that without addressing most of the established guidelines, reopening of schools now may trigger more consequences which might be difficult for the nation to manage.
” For now no institution is ready for resumption. We won’t want to endanger the lives of our members and that of the students. You dont have to risk peoples lives in the desperate bid to reopen schools in the country
He explained that ASUU did not embarked on industrial action as a result of the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information (IPPIS) but because of “the sorry state of our universities which the government miraculously wants to turn first class overnight
The union asked the federal government to tackle the rots in the country institutions, attend to the security challenges in the country and also to weigh the better alternative to the federal government IPPIS rather than resorting to cheap blackmail.
“The office of the Accountant General of the Federation has resorted to cheap blackmail again ASUU and the union decided not to respond any longer to the balderdash of the ignoramus team of experts and concentrated on the development of a better alternative called University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) which was unveiled some weeks ago to the Minister of Education”
Wants Babalakin sacked as leader of negotiating team
The union also called for the removal and replacement of Mr. Wale Babalakin as the leader of the team negotiating with ASUU since he has been asked to step aside and the Pro- Chancellor of the University of Lagos.
Olufayo said “with the federal government directive asking Babalakin to step aside as the Pro- Chancellor of University of Lagos, he is no more qualify to head the negotiating team between the union and the government.
“The Babalakin led committee appeared to have reached its dead -end given his infamous and albeit inglorious refuse as the Pro -Chancellor of the University of Lagos through which he became the Chairman, committee of Pro -chancellors which qualified him to be a leader of the government team.
“ASUU wonders whether the fate of the generality of Nigerian University Students and workers would have to hang on the far of Babalakin whose appointment was rejected by ASUU in the first instance, going by his antecedents.
Olufayo said “It may interest Nigerians to know that Babalakin has held on to this negotiation exercise for three and half years now, wasting the nation’s resources without anything to show for it”