Seyifunmi Soremekun, Faith Enang, Abiola ‘Leye & Ojo Faith
After a 12-year stand off with Federal Government, it is not yet uhuru for university lecturers now left in a quandary amid two pay rises as hope also sims for decaying infrastructural facilities on campuses.
The ASUU Chairman, UNILAG Chapter, Dr. Dele Asiru, made this comment during an exclusive interview with UNILAG Sun correspondents.
Asiru disclosed that the government struck an agreement with the Union in 2009 which he called “The 2009 Agreement”. He made it known that the agreement included some subheads which are beneficial to every institution and can be afforded by the government.
“We had an agreement with the federal government. That’s what we call The 2009 agreement. In that agreement there are various subheads, conditions of service, funding for revitalization of the university and other matters there”, he explained.
Asiru further explained that although the agreement was designed to be reviewed every three years, the government has failed to fulfill the agreement for the past twelve years.
He noted that despite all the efforts of the union to ensure the government carried out it’s part of the agreement, nothing has changed.
“In that agreement, we agreed that that agreement will be reviewed every three years. Between 2009 and today we have struggled, in fact, there have been close to ten strike actions to get the government to review that agreement. Up to today, the agreement is yet to be conclusively reviewed”, the ASUU Chairman lamented.
The Union is also fighting for an increase in pay for members as the professor expressed sadness as there has not been an increment in salaries for years.
“Lecturers have been receiving the same salaries in the last 12 years. In fact, there’s no sector of the Nigerian economy that has been so badly treated like the educational sector. This saddens my heart”, he said.
He added that although the public often misunderstands the reasons for continuous strike actions, seeing the Union as selfish, the fight is for both lecturers and students.
“We’re fighting for everybody. For example, in Mass Comm, you won’t want to come back to the Mass Comm department where you will be handed a hundred and ten thousand naira (N110,000) at the end of the month.
Another reason we go on strike is that ASUU desires a globally competitive university system for this country, because we understand that we are academic scholars”, he added.
During the interview, the UNILAG ASUU Chairman also listed some of the things their strike actions were able to produce, even though the government hasn’t fulfilled its part of “The 2009 Agreement”.
“The Sodeinde hall that was refurbished and made ensuite was consequent upon ASUU strike, no lecturer lives in Sodeinde Hall. If you go into any classroom in this university and you see the inscription, “ETF” , know that it is a product of the ASUU strike.”
“Trying to put air conditioners in your classrooms, trying to get modern teaching aids, those are part of the revitalisation.
The whole faculty of Arts building was renovated consequent upon ASUU strike. So both staff and students benefit from ASUU’s agitation. But governments blackmail, which is also intended to put lecturers against students”, Asiru said.
The professor urged the government to “realize that it is its business to educate its citizens. And look anywhere in the world, societies that are making progress are doing so because of their investment in education”.
Dele Asiru also hinted to us that the ASUU UNILAG Chapter is planning to build a new secretariat in the school, as the one in use is “not befitting of our status”.