The House of Representatives criticized the president of the Universities Academic Staff Union, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, for accusing the president, Femi Gbajabiamila, of misleading university professors into calling off their eight-month strike.
House Committee on Media and Public Affairs Chairman Benjamin Kalu, in a statement released on Wednesday, also stated that at no time did Gbajabiamila agree with ASUU that teachers would be paid for the period the tools were taken down. .
In the statement titled ‘House of Representatives Response to Osodeke’s Deception Allegations Against Mr. Speaker,’ Kalu noted that the federal government rightfully withheld salaries during the period that universities were closed.
ASUU had started an indefinite strike on February 14, 2022. Gbajabiamila had led the intervention in the ongoing crisis between the government and teachers, which led to the suspension of the strike in October.
However, the Chamber is criticizing some of the claims made by the ASUU president in his recent interview with the media.
The statement read: “On Tuesday, December 27, 2022, the President of the Universities Academic Staff Union, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, gave an interview, accusing the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Representative Femi Gbajabiamila, of using the deceit to convince the union. suspend their strike action. He specifically alleged that the Spokesperson failed to honor his written commitment that the government would, without delay, compensate the back wages owed to union members for the time they were on strike.
“For the record, at no time did the Speaker of the House of Representatives commit to making up back wages owed to union members for the time they were on strike. The House of Representatives helped resolve the strike by pledging to improve the university faculty welfare package and revitalization funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities. These commitments are reflected in the Appropriation Bill 2023, which includes N170,000,000,000.00) to provide a level increase in the university faculty welfare package and an additional N300,000,000,000.00 in revitalization funds .
“In addition, the House of Representatives continues to work with the interested parties: the General Accountant of the Federation and the Union of Academic Personnel of the Universities to facilitate the adoption of elements of the Solution of Transparency and University Responsibility in the Integrated System of Information of Payroll and Personnel. This effort is being overseen by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Representative Aminu Suleiman.
“Professor Emmanuel Osodeke knows that the Nigerian federal government is under no obligation to pay the salaries of university professors during the time they were on strike. This is a matter resolved in law. See S. 43(1)(a) Commercial Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN). The Executive’s decision not to pay salaries to teachers for the strike time is justified by the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions. However, the Speaker has made interventions for an exemption in this regard, and Professor Osodeke is well aware of this.”
The Chamber spokesperson stated that the public interest in ensuring a well-functioning tertiary education sector is a matter of paramount importance to all who understand the transformative role of education in any society.
He stressed that it was for this reason that the Ninth Chamber had been constant in its efforts to explore ways to reform and improve the framework of public education in the country from primary to tertiary education.
“Our goals in this regard will not be achieved when stakeholders choose to ignore substantive issues and consider bold ideas in favor of cheap blackmail and immoral propaganda,” he said.
The statement further said: “Professor Osodeke’s bad-faith approach to negotiations and his affinity for brinkmanship are major reasons the universities were on strike for so long. His ongoing interventions continue to threaten the progress being made to prevent the possibility of further disruption to the academic calendar of universities.
“Therefore, I ask you, in your capacity as the president of the Union of Academic Staff of Universities, to desist from making any more misleading statements against the House of Representatives and the president, the representative Femi Gbajabiamila. There is no room for hostility and selfish agitation at this critical time. This is the time for a calm head and steady hands, working together for the common good.”