The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called for the immediate sack of the Minister for Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, accusing him of complicating the impasse between Government and ASUU.
Chairman, ASUU, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, MOUAU, Professor Chike Ugwuene, who made the demand during a rally by ASUU members at the university, accused Ngige of “Divide and rule and pro-rata payment of salaries.”
He expressed disappointment over the inability of the Minister to help resolve the lingering face-off between the union and the Federal Government.
Professor Ugwuene said that the Federal Government had no regard for lecturers, hence Government’s refusal to attend to ASUU demands.
He regretted that even when the lecturers out of respect for the court decided to suspend the strike and returned to the classroom with the expectations that Government would fulfil its own part of the, the good gesture of ASUU was reciprocated with half salary
The ASUU boss said that Government had pushed ASUU members to the wall and that they might have no choice “than to break the wall”.
He argued that since the lecturers were clearing the academic works suspended during the strike, the Government’s refusal to pay for the months of the strike was hollow.
“When we came back, the government rewarded us by paying pro-rata as if we are casual workers. The government decided to reduce us.
“In MOUAU, we started with 2021/2022 examinations, but Government didn’t regard that but adopted ‘no work, no pay’. We have shown patriotism enough, else we may begin ‘no pay no work”.
Speaking at the rally, the National Chairman of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke told Government to stop toying with lecturers and the Education sector.
He urged Government to heed the demands of ASUU to save the education sector from total collapse.
Osodoke, however, said that ASUU had not been defeated as the “federal government has budgeted N470 billion for Nigerian universities”.
He, therefore, urged Government to respect all its agreements with ASUU, accusing the federal government of dragging its feet on education.
Earlier, the Zonal Coordinator, ASUU Owerri Zone, Comrade Uzo Onyebinama, said that Government and not ASUU was to be held responsible if anything happened to the education sector.
“We go borrowing and we are living by borrowing. We are not labourers, but the struggle continues”, he said.
In their separate lectures, Professor Irene Ejeh and Prof. C. O. Offor urged the federal government to do all it can to improve the conditions of universities in the country.
The lecturers who carried placards with various inscriptions marched around the campus chanting solidarity songs.
Some of the inscriptions read: “We are rejecting it”; “Nigerians beware of Ngige – enemy of education”; “Education is the bedrock of developing nation” and “On NIMI Briggs agreement we stand”, among others.