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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Renewed hope for Nigerian students as FG reveals date to end ASUU strike

The Federal Government has given the assurance that its face-off with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university-based unions will soon be resolved and academic activities resume in earnest.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 while responding to questions from State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

Recall that the public universities were shut down on February 14, 2022, by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the other three university-based unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Associated Institutionsn(NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), joined in the strike over the inability of the government to address their concerns.

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The minister said the government was interested in seeing the students going back to school, adding that the government will be holding a meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2022, with the striking varsity unions.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had insisted on the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) it created, claiming that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was short changing the teachers.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU) had also Universities Peculiar Personnel Payroll System (UPPPS), as their own payment platform.

However, the government in March, 2022, had reportedly said UTAS has failed three integrity tests.

In the Wednesday address, the government has now distanced itself from reports that it was contemplating a different payment platform for the various trade unions in tertiary institutions.

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Ngige said the Thursday meeting is expected to look at the progress report by the relevant bodies handling the crisis including NITDA on how far it has gone with the integrity test on the University Transparency and Accountability System, UTAS which was proposed as an alternative platform by ASUU and the University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System, U3PS, proposed by SSANU and NASU.

Ngige also said he was waiting for the report of the Tripartite Plus Committee comprising the Ministry of Education, the Chief of Staff, Salaries and Wages Income Commission, the National University Commission (NUC) as well as the striking unions.

Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the SSANU, NASU, and allied institutions has extended its ongoing strike by two months.

This was made known on Wednesday, in a statement signed by the National President, SSANU, Mr. Mohammed Ibrahim, and General Secretary, Mr. Peter Adeyemi.

The statement partly read, ‘‘In view of the fact that government is still a long way from effectively resolving the issues in contention, it is only expedient that we allow the process to be fully concluded before directing the end of the strike.

“Consequently, you are hereby informed that the strike has been extended by two months, within which we are hoping that all the contentious issues would have been effectively laid to rest. The two-month extension is with effect from Friday, June 24, 2022,” the statement said.

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