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Cablegate: Nigerian University Unions Suspend Four-Month

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PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHUJA #2007/01 3061836
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021836Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7395
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 2112
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 1052
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS PRIORITY 2218
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002007

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/FO, DRL/ILCSR, AF/W, INR/AA;
STATE PASS TO USTR (AGAMA)
LABOR FOR HALEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAID PGOV PREL PHUM NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY UNIONS SUSPEND FOUR-MONTH
STRIKE

REF: A. ABUJA 1651
B. ABUJA 1645
C. ABUJA 1307

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU),
Non-academic Staff Union (NASU), and Senior Staff Association
of Universities (SSAU) officially suspended their four-month
long strike October 26. During the strike, the ASUU, NASU,
and SSAU strikes effectively shut down almost all public
universities. The strikes, which began right before final
exams, left hundreds of thousands of students idle,
unemployed, and angry. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In July, the GON announced through Minister of
Education Dr. Sam Egwu that it had agreed to ASUU demands for
greater academic freedom; a change in mandatory retirement
age from 65 to 70 years-old; and a 40-percent increase in
ASUU member salaries. However, the unions were not satisfied
since this only partially satisfied commitments dating back
more than five years. NASU and SSAU began criticizing the
GON for negotiating separately with ASUU, specifically on
salary disparities between academics and non-academics, and
joined the strike. The unions warned students and parents to
prepare themselves for "a very long strike," while Egwu
criticized them for inflicting "punishment" and "death" on
Nigerians. The Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP), which
serves as the GON's tripartite dispute settlement and
conflict resolution court, ordered ASUU members back to work.

3. (SBU) After four months of stalemate, ASUU announced
October 26 that it had reached an agreement with the GON and
would suspend its strike. ASUU President Akuchukwu Awuzie
told LabOff that this was, however, only a "suspension of
strikes" because the unions had to "sacrifice" their salary
demand so that the GON would commit to the UNESCO-recommended
26-percent budget allocation toward higher education in next
year's budget, as well as more funding for research and
infrastructure." He asserted that if the ASUU did not see
the promised resources as promised, new strikes would resume.

4. (SBU) Once ASUU agreed to suspend the strike, NASU and
SSAU followed suit. NASU President Lady Iliya told LabOff
that their principal concern involved salary disparities
between academic and nonacademic staff, which remained
unresolved. "However, we will stand with our (ASUU, NASU,
and SSAU) brothers and sisters and call off the strike while
we all continue to negotiate our
salaries together." Senior Staff Association of Universities
President, Adewusi Promise, told LabOff October 23 that their
salary demands dated from a 2003
agreement already negotiated with the GON. He expressed
frustration that the union has to renegotiate terms the GON
had failed to honor.

-------
COMMENT
-------

5. (SBU) In 2009, there have been over 12 actual or
threatened strikes, with most dating back to agreements
Qthreatened strikes, with most dating back to agreements
negotiated with the GON since 2004. While there was broad
sympathy among elites for striking university staff, the
shuttering of Nigerian universities for four long months
represents a painful setback and embarrassment for all
concerned.

6. (U) Embassy coordinated this telegram with ConGen Lagos.

ABUJA 00002007 002 OF 002


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