The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, on Friday, delivered his valedictory speech at the conference of the union held at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
In the speech marking the end of his three-year tenure as the leader of the academic body, Ogunyemi thanked the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the Nigeria Labour Congress and others.
He also noted that 30 ASUU members died of COVID-19 and other issues during the period under review.
He said, “In line with the provisions of our constitution, we are here to review our activities in the last three years with a view to charting a new course at this critical juncture of our national life.
“As a point of departure, we must place on record that COVID-19 did not spare our campuses. Many of our infected members had had to combat the COVID attack with resources from colleagues and other people of goodwill because their salaries and emoluments, as well as the union’s check-off deductions, were either withheld by the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation over the rejection of the discredited Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System.
“Our other comrades suffered the same fate in the hands of overzealous State University Vice-Chancellors and Visitors. As a matter of fact, we lost at least 30.
“In the last three years, ASUU has enjoyed tremendous goodwill from quarters too numerous to mention.
“Despite being a government official, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund has never denied his training in ASUU and the role played by the Union in midwifing the intervention agency.
“The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission is also another rare breed who projects his clear understanding of ASUU’s mission at every meeting with the government. May their race multiply!
“We equally appreciate the intervention efforts of the Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu as well as his Labour and Employment counterpart, Sen (Dr) Chris Ngige when it mattered.
“We cannot thank them enough. Our profound appreciation equally goes to the Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who has continued to play significant roles in getting our matters resolved in the last one year.
“The NLC President and Global President of the International Trade Union Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has stood by us all the way. His strategic intervention, on behalf of the Congress to which we are an affiliate, always made the difference. Comrade Global President, may your shadow never grow less.
Ogunyemi added,” For us, the ASUU struggle has become a lifetime project. We therefore appreciate the privilege to serve you and pledge our continued loyalty and support for this great union of intellectuals. So, as we say, the struggle continues.”
Ogunyemi’s successor is expected to emerge on Sunday at the Awka conference.
The conference’s lecture titled: “State Terrorism and Nigeria’s Development” which was delivered by Prof Akin Oyeboye of Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, summed that Nigeria was at a crossroads, ” caught in the vortex of verible contradictions, hopelessness and self-doubt.
The Vice UNIZIK Vice Chancellor , Prof Charles Esimone, described ASUU as the sole and conscience of the Nigerian University system.