‘Break Tables…Speak Hard Truths’ — Gbajabiamila Charges ASUU, Education Stakeholders At Summit Anxiety As ASUU Commences NEC Meeting Over Half-Salary Payment - Mc Ebisco

‘Break Tables…Speak Hard Truths’ — Gbajabiamila Charges ASUU, Education Stakeholders At Summit Anxiety As ASUU Commences NEC Meeting Over Half-Salary Payment

‘Break Tables…Speak Hard Truths’ — Gbajabiamila Charges ASUU, Education Stakeholders At Summit Anxiety As ASUU Commences NEC Meeting Over Half-Salary Payment

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has charged education stakeholders including members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to ‘speak hard truths and break tables’ in charting ways to improve the tertiary education sector in Nigeria.

Gbajabiamila said this while addressing lecturers, members of the House of Representatives and concerned stakeholders in the education sector at the two-day National Summit on Tertiary Education Reform which began in Abuja on Tuesday.

The summit was themed, ‘Reimagining Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Solutions’.

Gbajabiamila emphasized that the summit would not be a fruitless endeavour and that its outcome would be applied in practical terms to salvage and improve the tertiary education system in Nigeria.

“Let me say this for emphasis, this (summit) is not just going to be a talk. The recommendations, submissions and whatever the outcome of this summit, which we will collate, will form an action plan upon which legislators will act to salvage tertiary education in Nigeria.

“So I urge you to use this opportunity to speak hard truths and shake tables, the time for reticence has long since passed. Now is the time for drastic actions,” he said.

The Speaker added that before the summit began, there had been calls for interested education stakeholders to send in submissions on the themes and subthemes which it would be centered on, and over 1000 submissions had been received.

“As part of this summit, we published a call for papers requesting scholars, tertiary education administrators, and local and international stakeholders to make submissions on the theme of the summit, and other designated subthemes. By this morning, we have received over 1000 submissions including some from outside the country, coming from as far flung as Oxford University. This tells you how important education is to the Nigerian people.

“A technical team has been appointed to collate and review those submissions. The conversations we will hold at this summit, and the submissions we have received will form the basis of a policy action plan and implementation framework which we will unveil shortly after the conclusion of this summit. Additionally, a journal of the submissions will be published as a guide and reference to the future,” he said.

Speaking on the recently suspended 8-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Gbajabiamila said the end of the strike did not mean all the issues on funding of education standard as well as student and staff issues had been resolved.

He added that the strike would not be the last one by the union unless all stakeholders involved work to determine that it is so.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has commenced an emergency meeting over the Federal Government’s decision to pay lecturers under the union half salaries for the month of October.

There is anxiety among undergraduates who had just been recalled from an 8-month strike by lecturers over what the outcome of the meeting would be.

The meeting commenced at around 12:40pm on Monday. Some of the union’s lecturers had shared that they were paid for only 18 working days in October.

A member of the Council confirmed that the meeting is currently underway, Punch reports.

Meanwhile, a legal representative to ASUU, Femi Falana SAN shared in a statement released on Sunday that the FG’s decision to pay the lecturers for only half of the month is faulty.

“In justifying the payment of half salary to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities for the month of October 2022, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has invoked the “no-work-no- pay” clause in section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act (Cap T8) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the lecturers “were paid in pro rata to the number of days that they worked in October, counting from the day that they suspended their industrial action. Pro-rata was done because you cannot pay them for work not done. Everybody’s hands are tied.

“The position of the Federal Government is factually faulty and legally misleading. Since the industrial action was called off the public universities have adjusted their calendars to ensure that the 2021/2022 academic session is not cancelled. Consequently, students are currently taking lectures or writing examinations that were disrupted during the strike of the ASUU. Therefore, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the ASUU strike the doctrine of “no work, no pay” is totally inapplicable as students who were not taught during the strike are currently attending lectures and writing examinations”, he said.