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Varsity workers declare indefinite strike from Feb 5

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Barely one month after university lecturers called off a nine-month strike, another industrial action has been declared by the Non-Academic Staff of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) with effect from February 5.

The two unions coming under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) have given the government a 14-day ultimatum to meet their demands bordering on welfare package and changes in the university system or risk an “indefinite, comprehensive and total strike”.

The leadership of the unions made the announcement at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, stressing that if the government failed to address all the issues, the strike would commence from the midnight of February 5.

General Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, who spoke on behalf of JAC leadership, said 90 per cent of NASU members in all its branches across the country were in support of the strike.

He also said 83 per cent of SSANU members had expressed support for the strike; 11 per cent were against strike, adding that six per cent were indifferent.

Adeyemi said, “It is in line with the resolution of our members nationwide that the leadership of the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU hereby resolves as follows: That members of NASU and SSANU shall embark on an indefinite, comprehensive and total strike with effect from midnight of Friday 5th February, 2021.

“That two weeks’ notice effective from today, Friday 22nd January, 2021, is hereby given to government and relevant stakeholders of this development.”

He said JAC of NASU and SSANU had signed an understanding with the Federal Government on Tuesday 20 October, last year on all the contentious issues affecting the university system and the welfare of their members.

The issues, according to him, are inconsistencies in IPPIS payment; non-payment of earned allowances; non- payment of arrears of national minimum wage; delay in renegotiation of FGN/NASU and SSANU 2009 agreements.

Other are non-payment of retirement benefits of former members; teaching staff usurping headship of non-teaching units in violation of conditions of service and establishment procedures; neglect and poor funding of state universities; and non-constitution of visitation panels for universities.

Adeyemi said, “Having painstakingly taken you through all the issues as agreed upon in the October 2020 memorandum of understanding with government, it should be easy for you to deduce that out of the seven items upon which agreements were reached, only one item – constitution of visitation panels has been implemented. Even that item was not implemented within the timeline as agreed upon and is still only partially implemented.

“It was against this background that the national protests were embarked on the January 12 to 14, 2021, with a view to drawing the attention of necessary stakeholders to the issues and seeking redress as appropriate. Sadly, till date, no response has been got and it would seem that the government played deaf to our protests and lamentations.”

He added: “As stated earlier, the Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU had been very circumspect about embarking on strike action. It has never been our style to undertake strike actions at the drop of a hat. Sadly, it would appear that our non-belligerent modes of engagement have been taken for weakness and our belief in civil engagement and dialogue has been taken for granted.

“It is against this backdrop and in a democratic spirit that the leadership of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU threw back the decision after the three- day protests to the various memberships across branches on the way forward and the resolutions have been overwhelming.”

Education

Strike: Court strikes out NANS suit on ASUU/FG dispute

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The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, struck out a suit the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, filed to compel the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and the Federal Government to call off the ongoing strike action.

Justice Polycarp Hamman terminated further proceedings in the matter, after it was withdrawn by factional President of NANS, Umar Faruk Lawal.

Lawal had told the court that he filed the suit marked NICN/ABJ/273/2022, for himself and on behalf of NANS.

Aside from ASUU which was cited as the 1st Respondent, the Minister of Education and the Attorney-General of the Federation were listed as 2nd and 3rd Respondents, respectively.

When the matter came up on Tuesday, Lawal told the court that he had filed a motion for discontinuance.

He said the decision to withdraw the suit was on account of the challenge by the student body which contested his standing.

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Education

ASUU strike: FG withdraws order to reopen universities

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The National Universities Commission has withdrawn its circular which earlier ordered vice-chancellors, pro-chancellors and governing councils to reopen federal universities.

This is contained in a  new circular issued Monday afternoon by the commission tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, which was signed by the Director, Finance and Account of the NUC, Sam Onazi.

The withdrawal came a few hours after a report of an NUC circular directing the vice-chancellors of the federal universities to reopen their institutions and commence lectures.

The new letter titled ‘Withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022’ read, “I have been directed to withdraw the NUC circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated September 23, 2022 on the above.

“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities are to please note. Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.

“Please accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards.”

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria last Wednesday ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its seven-month nationwide strike and resume work while negotiations with the FG on its demands should continue.

But the union has challenged the order at the appeal court.

ASUU commenced the strike on February 14 to demand improved funding for universities, a review of salaries for lecturers, among other things.

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Nigeria begins implementation of new national teachers’ policy

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The Federal Government has announced the commencement of the implementation of the new National Teaching Policy.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said this at a news conference to herald the commemoration of the 2022 World Teachers Day in Abuja on Monday.

Adamu, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr David Adejo, said said the implementation had commenced at the national level.

He therefore called on states to also ensure the implementation of the policy.

“I must state here that the national implementation of the New National Teaching Policy has commenced.

“It is a holistic package that will ultimately address the career path, remuneration, professional teaching standards, qualification, deployment and management of teachers,” he said.

The minister said there was need to evaluate the indispensible role of teachers in nation building and the importance of repositioning the profession for the attainment and sustainability of quality education.

He said that the theme stressed the importance of empowering teachers for the effective transformation of education.

Adamu said this would ensure quality teaching and learning as well as galvanise technological advancements to meet the ever changing needs for national growth and development.

“The ministry started with a call for nomination instruments to state Ministries of Education and Federal Unity Colleges nationwide for the selection of meritorious nominees.

“The champions so selected will then compete for National Best School, Best Teacher and Best School Administrator in the Public, Private and Federal Unity Colleges categories.

“I want to use this opportunity to further implore the state ministries of education to be inclusive in their nominations by ensuring that the exercise commences from the world level.

“Each Local Government is expected to forward their best to the respective state ministry of education for screening,” he said.

Also, the President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Audu Amba commended President Muhammadu Buhari for sustaining the President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award (PTSEA).

He said it had helped to give hope to teachers and promoted the dignity of the teaching profession.

Amba, represented by Mr Stephen Khabayi, the Chairman of FCT chapter of NUT, said the celebration sought to draw public attention to the support teachers needed to fully contribute to educational transformation.

“Indeed, the right number of qualified teachers are needed, and be provided with access to continuing professional development, improved status and working conditions and be empowered, motivated and supported.

“The NUT remains grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari for signing into law the “Harmonised Retirement Age for Teachers in Nigeria Bill”.

“This provides for retirement of teachers on attainment of 65 years or 40 years of pensionable service, and look forward to the implementation of the new retirement age and other approvals announced by the Federal Government at the 2020 edition of the World Teachers Day celebration,” he said.

He assured them that teachers in the country would continue to strive with dedication and commitment to contribute their quota to the building of the nation.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the World Teachers Day started in 1994 to commemorate the Oct. 5, 1966 adoption of the UNESCO/ILO recommendation on the need to continually refresh the consciousness of national governments towards the inestimable value of teachers.

The 2022 theme for the celebration is “The Transformation of Education Begins with Teachers”.

 

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