The leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Tuesday said it is yet to engage meaningfully with the Federal Government of Nigeria since the union embarked on an indefinite strike in March.
The Academic Union had on March 23, 2020, embarked on an industrial action over the insistence of the federal government that members of the union must be enrolled in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), payroll software mandated for all public officials.
Last year, the Federal Government gave a directive that all its employees should be enrolled in the IPPIS by December 31st or their salaries would be withheld. The directive did not go down well with ASUU members and they never failed to make it known to their employers, Federal or state government.
Few days to the December 31st deadline, over 70 per cent of ASUU members were said to have secretly enrolled in the platform, while some others, especially their leaders, refused to join. All efforts to persuade them failed, rather they embarked on two weeks warning strike.
The National President of the union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian newspaper, explained that the federal government is yet to respond to the concerns raised by the union.
He added that the existing inter-state lockdown across the country is preventing the ASUU from having a meeting with the Federal Government.
He said “We have not started any meaningful engagement with the Federal Government. The last thing we did was to do a letter to them conveying our rejection of the last offer they gave.
“Government has not written back to us, although they made an attempt to call for a meeting, and we said there was no way people can meet in Abuja because of the lockdown. We hope that as soon as the environment permits, we shall meet and sort out issues.
Ogunyemi stated that despite the industrial action embarked by the union, its members have been engaged in various research activities to proffer solution to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
“Our strike does not affect participation in COVID-19 prevention and control activities. Right from the time we declared this industrial action, we gave them permission to participate in COVID-19 research, there is no state in Nigeria where we have intervened in terms of donation of materials, production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“As we speak we have many research groups coming up with ideas and proposals. Just last week, a group in Markurdi presented a ventilator that they invented in Federal University of Agric, Markurdi. These activities are coming up almost in every state of the federation and we are expecting more.”