ASUU protest hits UniJos as national strike looms

The Universities Academic Staff Union, which has been campaigning for better funding of the education sector and better welfare for its members, may have finally decided to embark on a national strike following the end of the union’s 14-day ultimatum which expires on Sunday.

This came as members of the University of Jos union on Tuesday protested against the situation and called on the federal government to act quickly to prevent the impending strike.

Tuesday’s protest, which began around 11 a.m., disrupted the ongoing second semester exams at UNIJOS as union members marched through the university community singing songs of solidarity.

They also carried signs with different inscriptions, some of which read: “Let ASUU members breathe”, “Let us pay our promotion arrears”, “Proper funding of universities, is that difficult?” ‘End ASUU strike now’, ‘Sign Nimi Briggs MOA’, ‘IPPIS is a fraud, migrate now’ and ‘Tinubu, release our revitalization fund’, among others.

University students joined the protest in solidarity

The protesters later converged at the university’s Senate building where they were received by the senior management of the institution, including the vice-chancellor, Prof. Tanko Ishaya; Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Administration, Professor Joash Amupitan (SAN) and Secretary, Dr Rejoice Songden.

Vice-president of the university’s ASUU, Professor Kiri Jaryum, who led the protest, told the VC that its members had endured enough suffering and mistreatment at the hands of the federal government.

He said the union could no longer bear the situation if the government did not address its demands at the end of the 14-day ultimatum earlier given to the government by the ASUU National Executive Committee.

Jaryum, who handed over a 9-point demand to the VC for subsequent delivery to the Federal Government, said: “Our protest today at the University of Jos is in line with the 14-day ultimatum given by the ASUU National Executive Committee and the activities to be carried out by the different branches.

“While we are here, other branches within the Bauchi zone of ASUU, which comprises six universities, are doing the same.

“Our branch president is out to coordinate similar protests in the area as we are doing the same at the University of Jos and he asked me to replace him.

“Our demands have been with the government for a long time and it is quite unfortunate that we are repeating the same thing because the government has been turning a deaf ear.”

He listed the items contained in the protest letter, including the need for the government to pay them the earned academic allowances budgeted for 2023, the revitalization fund and the payment of salaries of members whose names were excluded from the IPPIS platform.

Others include the need for the government to stop the proliferation of universities, the need for the government to increase their salaries which had stagnated for the last 15 years, as well as the need for the government to return to the renegotiation table to sign the Nimi Briggs committee agreement, among others.

The Vice Chancellor who received the 9-point protest letter thanked the ASUU members for their peaceful protest at the institution.

Tanko said that as the VC, he supported all the demands contained in the protest letter and that he would add another demand to the protest letter before submitting it to the FG.

He called on the FG to increase its funding to public universities to allow them to function and meet their objectives.

“I can assure you that we will present this ASUU protest letter to the federal government word for word. I can tell you that the 9 points you have listed here have affected every member of the university community in one way or another. I can tell you that some of us here are also owed a few months of salary.

“So we are suffering and we understand what their demands are. In sending this letter, I will also include point number 10 because the University of Jos can no longer provide electricity with the recent increase in electricity tariff,” VC stated.

PUNCH reports that ASUU had on Tuesday threatened a nationwide strike, giving the government a two-week ultimatum to reconstitute federal university governing councils.

The federal government responded by announcing the constitution of a new governing council of the country’s federal universities and other institutions, but ASUU rejected the government’s action and insisted that its demands had not been addressed by the government.

The 14-day ultimatum earlier given by ASUU is expected to expire on Sunday.

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