ASUU and Nigerian Goverment

ASUU Strike: Why Union will continue action for 2 more months ─Official

*The Academic Staff Union of Universities has purportedly accused the Federal Government of ‘insensitivity’ and ‘peddling lies’ in regard to its agreement with the authorities, thereby prompting a fresh extension of the strike for eight more weeks

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Contrary to expectation that the one-month latest warning strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would end this week, and industrial harmony would return to the Nigerian universities, the leadership of the academic union, again, has extended its ongoing strike by two months.

ConsumerConnect reports that ASUU has reportedly accused the Federal Government of “insensitivity and peddling lies” in regard to its agreement with the authorities, thereby prompting extension of the strike for two more weeks.

ASUU Executives at a meeting   File Photo

ASUU reportedly made the decision to extend the strike after a prolonged meeting of its  National Executive Council (NEC), which started Sunday, March 13, 2022, and ended early morning Monday, March 14, at the Union’s National Secretariat at the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA).

A member of the NEC who sought anonymity to avoid sanctions by the academic union, however, disclosed that an official statement to this effect was being drafted by the leadership of ASUU, and that as soon as it was ready, it would be publicised.

“Yes, we have extended the strike by eight weeks pending when the Nigerian government would find the university system worthy of the desired attention. A statement is currently being drafted to that effect.

“We will make it available soon,” stated this source.

Reported failure of UTAS on integrity tests

It was gathered that the Union, earlier Sunday, had issued a statement on the controversy surrounding the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) that its technical team developed to replace the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) which is currently being used to pay its members’ salaries in Nigeria.

Malam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, Director-General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), along with Prof. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Wednesday, March 9 at the State House, in Abuja, had explained that ASUU’s UTAS failed three integrity tests of user acceptance, vulnerability and stress, that his agency had conducted on the software.

The NITDA Director-General explained details of the failure of UTAS on integrity tests and said: “We did all these three tests with them and the system couldn’t pass. We wrote the reports and submitted it back to the Honourable Minister, which he forwarded to all relevant institutions, including ASUU.

“As we speak now (Wednesday), ASUU is working, trying to fix all the issues we highlighted with the system and we will review it again. But that is just one half of the story.”

ASUU reacts to government’s assessment of UTAS software

However, ASUU has insisted that UTAS scored both 85 and 77 percent, which it noted are “high-class grades in any known evaluation system.”

The Union was also reported to have threatened that it would demand that the initial NITDA Technical Report on UTAS, where it scored 85 percent in User Acceptance Test (UAT) be made public if it (NITDA) continues to insist that UTAS truly failed the integrity tests.

The Union as well noted that NITDA carried out the first integrity test August 10, 2021, at the NUC headquarters, noting that relevant government agencies and all the end-users in the university system were present.

It added that all accepted UTAS as a suitable solution for salary payment in Nigerian universities.

“However, in a curious twist of submission, the NITDA Technical Team, after conducting a comprehensive functionality test came out to say that out of 687 test cases, 529 cases were satisfactory, 156 cases queried, and 2 cases were cautioned.

“Taking this report on its face value, the percentage score is 77%. The question that arises from this is, can 77% in any known fair evaluation system be categorised as failure?” ASUU asked rhetorically.

According to the academic union, NITDA “in their desperation to justify their false assertions, threw up issues, such as Data centre and hosting of UTAS software which are clearly outside the rubrics of ASUU’s responsibilities in the deployment of UTAS.”

It is recalled that ASUU embarked on a four-week warning strike to press home its demands, with the prominent ones being the renegotiation of the ASUU/FG 2009 agreement and the sustainability of the university autonomy by deploying UTAS to replace the government’s “imposed” (IPPIS).

Other demands include the release of the reports of visitation panels to federal universities, distortions in salary payment challenges, funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowance, poor funding of state universities and promotion arrears.

Adamu Adamu, Honourable Minister for Education, few days after the commencement of the strike constituted the white paper panel of the visitation panels.

Nonetheless, four weeks later, the Federal Government is yet to inaugurate the team to commence work with a view to resolving the logjam in the country’s University system.

Hitherto, the two most important demands for ASUU over the prolonged strike include the renegotiation of the ASUU-FG 2009 agreement, and deployment UTAS for payment of its members salaries.

However, both have remained unresolved as the government only recently inaugurated another committee to be led by a former vice-chancellor and emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Nimi Briggs.

Mr. Briggs-led committee was given three months to complete the renegotiation of the agreement with all University-based unions, including ASUU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), National Association of Academic Technologist (NAAT) and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions in the country.

But ASUU has said it has nothing more to discuss on the agreement but the implementation.

The three months given the committee to address the issues are not meant for the union, it stated.

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