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The Presidency has said that all the conditions stated by the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the teachers to call off their five-month-old strike have been met by the Federal Government.
The government deadline for the lecturers to go back to work or get sacked is Monday, but the union has rejected the government’s ultimatum.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs Dr. Doyin Okupe confirmed yesterday that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had opened a N200 billion Revitalisation of Universities Infrastructure Account (RUIA).
The opening of RUIA is one of the four conditions set for the Federal Government by ASUU to enable the union call off the strike.
Okupe said the CBN had confirmed the opening of the account on the receipt of authorisation to that effect from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
He was, however, silent on the union’s demand for the teachers’ salaries for the five months the strike has lasted.
Okupe said: “On the 13th of November 2013, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation authorised the Banking and Payment System Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria via a letter with reference number FD/OAGF/220/ADC/1/4DF to open a Revitalisation of Universities Infrastructural Account with the CBN.
“On the 29th of November, 2013, the CBN confirmed in a letter reference BPSD/BSD/CON VOL 17/088 to the Accountant General of the Federation that the said account had been opened and an account number was given.
“Prior to all these, the Director of Funds in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, M. K. Dikwa, through a letter reference FD/LP2008/37/C/I/DF dated 8th of November communicated with the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, requesting for the list of federal universities in Nigeria for the purpose of opening a Special Account for them.
“On the 12th November, 2013, the NUC through the office of the Executive Secretary, Prof Julius Okojie, in a letter reference NUC/ES/444/VOL15/280 responded to the request and gave the list of the universities with their various account numbers domiciled with the CBN.
“Following this, the Accountant General has communicated with the Executive Secretary requesting for the details of amount payable to each of the listed Universities which is currently being processed by the NUC.
“I state categorically that I have personally seen the balance in the account as of today and confirm that it contains the requisite amount and disbursement will commence as soon as on going administrative processes are sorted out.”
The President’s aide declared that neither Jonathan nor the administration had credibility issues with the union, adding that the President had always honoured his words and obligations to the Nigerian people as at when due.
He said none of the four conditions given by ASUU remained unmet, stressing that none was weighty enough to justify the continuation of the strike.
The other three conditions given by the union are that
•the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement in 2014 be included in the final document as agreed at the discussion with the President;
•a non-victimisation clause which is normally captured in all interactions of this nature be included in the final document; and that
• a new Memorandum of Understanding shall be validly endorsed, signed by a representative of government, preferably the Attorney General of the Federation and a representative of ASUU, with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as a witness.
Okupe said having met the conditions, there were no legitimate reasons for the strike to continue a day longer.
“We, therefore, call on Dr Nasir Fagge, his distinguished colleagues in the ASUU leadership as well as other patriotic members of their union to put all else aside and call off this strike in the interest of our young men and women who have been kept out of school for five months and who have no recourse to any form of compensation whatsoever,” Okupe said.
But ASUU vowed yesterday to pursue its demands to a logical end in honour of the late Prof. Festus Iyayi.
The Chairman, University of Ibadan (UI) branch of the union, Dr Olusegun Ajiboye, who spoke at a procession in honour of the late Iyayi on the campus stressed that the union would sustain the struggle for a better education system as the first step in ensuring that Iyayi did not die in vain.
Describing that late Iyayi as a committed unionist and detrabilised Nigerian who fought for education and the rights of Nigerians, Ajiboye said he paid the supreme price for Nigeria’s revitalisation.
“We are going to ensure that his death is not in vain,” he said, adding that ASUU was committed to ensuring the ongoing strike comes to an end as soon as the Federal Government addresses the grey areas.
Vice Chancellor Prof. Isaac Adewole hoped that what the late Iyayi stood for is not allowed to perish.
An activist, Comrade Femi Aborisade, noted that Iyayi’s death was a challenge to ASUU. He challenged the union to mount a campaign against the use of sirens on Nigerian roads.
He explained that those who use sirens, including government officials, are wasting the nation’s resources, stressing: “Enough is enough.”
Aborisade urged ASUU to sustain the ongoing fight till its demands are met.