* Kicks against Pantami’s professorial appointment
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed its readiness to embark on another round of industrial action following what it called government’s unfaithfulness in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action (MoA) it signed with the union upon which the last strike action was suspended.
ASUU national president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, who stated this after body’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting at the University of Abuja on November 13 and 14, 2021, said government should be held responsible if it failed to address the issues raised within three weeks.
The union lamented that depsite its meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on October 14, 2021, on the major outstanding issues including funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in IPPIS payment, the issues remained unattended to.
Osodeke said, “ASUU is fully committed to upholding academic integrity in our universities and working to make them more globally competitive. We are equally committed to promoting industrial harmony in the Nigerian University System for as long as all stakeholders are willing and committed to play their parts.
“We call on all Vice-Chancellors, as the main drivers of the system, to join us in this mission to safeguard the
waning image of our universities. They have no business trading honorary degrees and academic positions for personal and immediate gains; thereby smearing the collective integrity of committed scholars and other patriots who are working day and night to
uplift the system that produced them.
“Our union shall not shy away from taking the fight to administrators of Nigerian universities as well as internal and external agents who are and external agents who are bent on compromising the standard ASUU has consistently laboured to protect and improve.
“Finally, we call on all patriotic Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria to prevail on the federal and state governments to act fast to prevent another round of industrial crisis in Nigeria’s public universities.
“It is painful that our Union may soon have no other way of securing the implementation of FGN-ASUU collectively bargained agreements and redressing the criminal neglect of welfare issues of our members by State Governors. Governments of
Nigerian should be held responsible should ASUU be forced to activate the strike it patriotically suspended,” he said.
Meanwhile, the union said it was not convinced with the appointment of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, as a Professor by the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Imo State.
Recall that the FUTO chapter off ASUU had recently said standard processes were followed in the appointment of Pantami as Professor of Cybersecurity in the university following an investigation by the panel.
But reacting, the national leadership of the union said there was something wrong in the appointment of Panatami as Professor.
“The controversy this appointment has generated is unprecedented in the recent history of Nigerian universities. Indeed, it has generated passionate comments and responses from individuals and groups within and outside the nation.
“The controversy centres on the perceived roles played by the University administration in the alleged fraudulent appointment, and the subsequent seeming endorsement by the ASUU branch at FUTO. Consequently, some media commentators – print electronic and social have impugned that the national body of ASUU was in agreement with the position of ASUU FUTO Branch on the said appointment.
“Nothing could be farther from the truth. ASUU, as a Union has never supported, promoted or endorsed any illegal appointment or promotion of academics in any Nigerian University, including those of its members. As a Union, we have always insisted on strict adherence to due process and the rule of law in all aspects of university administration and governance,” ASUU national president stated.
In view of the foregoing, the union rejected the FUTO chapter of ASUU committee’s report and set up an independent committee to investigate all issues surrounding the controversial appointment of Dr. Pantami as a Professor of Cyber Security in the University.
He added, “Thereafter, the position of ASUU-NEC shall be made known to the public. In addition, another committee shall visit the ASUU-FUTO branch with a view to determining the role of members in the controversial appointment and report back to NEC for further action.”
The union further lamented the state of insecurity, especially in the educational institutions which is gradually becoming a norm, saying the security architecture in the country has almost collapsed.
It said, “There is need for government to ensure porous borders around the northwest and northeast to mitigate the spread of terrorists and bandits from neighboring countries, and increase political will and determination to end insecurity to disprove the popular cliche that ‘if I security lasts for more than 24 hours, the government has a hand in it.”