Strike imminent as ASUU rejects Babalakin-led renegotiation team

Strike imminent as ASUU rejects Babalakin-led renegotiation team

- An imminent strike looms as the leadership of ASUU has rejected Wale Babalakin as chairman of the renegotiation team

- The union alleged that Babalakin had made a mockery of the renegotiation process

- The agreement by the union was reached at the end of its three-day national executive council meeting in Calabar

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has rejected Wale Babalakin as the chairman of the government renegotiating team for the 2009 ASUU/Federal Government of Nigeria Agreement.

The union on Tuesday, August 7, said the renegotiation had collapsed over the alleged arrogance of Babalakin, who was said to have made a mockery of the renegotiation process.

Punch reports that ASUU had said that anything could happen if nothing was done about a letter written to the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, over the development.

The agreement by the union was reached at the end of its three-day national executive council meeting at the University of Calabar.

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Speaking on the crisis, the national president of the union, Biodun Ogunyemi, described Babalakin as a stumbling block in the renegotiation process.

Ogunyemi said: “Recall that in January 2017, the NEC meeting of ASUU held at Bayero University, Kano, welcomed the reconstitution of the government renegotiation team to enter into a renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU/FGN Agreement, which was long overdue."

“The renegotiation commenced in March 2017. At the inauguration of the committee, the Minister of Education declared that he expected the renegotiation to be completed within six weeks. Since then, for over 14 months, our union has had a series of negotiation meetings but it has been a fruitless exercise.

“The chairman of the Government Renegotiating Team, Dr Wale Babalakin, has constituted himself into a stumbling block in the process of the renegotiation. He has arrogantly exhibited the I-know-it-all attitude and also conducted himself as a judge, instead of a negotiator.

“With unwarranted arrogance, he has disregarded the cardinal principles of collective bargaining, deliberately slowed the process and made a mockery of the core tenets of industrial democracy. He has arrogated to himself the power to decide matters that should be collectively debated, analysed, and agreed upon by the two parties.

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“He has also consistently attempted to substitute core constitutional provisions of Nigeria on education, including university education, by market principles of trading in and purchasing higher education, putting Nigerian children in debt in order to acquire higher education. This situation is not acceptable to the union.

“ASUU has tried through several entreaties to make him see reason and return to the path of collective bargaining and respect for the constitutional provisions on education to no avail. Since March 2017, a period of over fourteen (14) months, the discussion has hovered only on funding and Babalakin’s insistence that a tuition regime must be introduced into the public universities in Nigeria," Ogunyemi said.

The ASUU national president said that the executive council has approved the decision of the ASUU team to withdraw from the re-negotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement.

He said this is as a result of Babalakin’s insistence on the commercialisation of tertiary education in the country.

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Meanwhile, previously reported that the workers at the Ibarapa Polytechnic, Eruwa, on Wednesday, July 18, commenced an indefinite strike over non-payment of salaries, poor welfare and non-accreditation of courses.

Three unions in the institution are involved in the strike.

They are the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).

Ibarapa Polytechnic is the fifth institution out of the six owned by the Oyo state government to join an indefinite strike declared by the unions.

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