• Govt, union to meet Thursday, says Ngige
The leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday stayed away from a meeting called by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, to find a solution to the strike embarked upon by the union on August 13, 2017.
The meeting was expected to be a follow-up to the August 17 meeting Ngige held with the government and ASUU delegation.
But the minister expressed disappointment with the union leaders whom he said had promised during the last meeting to take the offer of the Federal Government back to its members and revert within a week. The minister said a meeting had been slated to take place on Thursday between the Federal Government and members of ASUU.
Ngige also denied insinuations that ASUU shunned a meeting with the Federal Government team saying, “government as you know has made an offer to ASUU through the Ministry of Education and late Monday, ASUU got back to us with their counter offer. By then, this meeting had been scheduled and the government side needed to deliberate on their counter offer before we can have a reconciliation meeting to further discuss areas of disagreement. That is the position right now.”
His words: “We are holding a government side meeting, while the minister of education is also holding a meeting and we will meet later today and formalise our position. Wednesday is Federal Executive Council meeting and there are aspects that we will need FEC approval to go on with. Thereafter, we will meet with the ASUU team either tomorrow (Wednesday) evening or Thursday morning, whichever will be more convenient.”
In a statement issued yesterday, titled “Nationwide strike: An update”, ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said there was no need for the Tuesday meeting as the union had collated its views and sent them to the Federal Government through a letter dated Monday, August 28, 2017.
He said the union was waiting for the government’s action on its letters, as well as the timely resolution of the issues.
“We have since held talks with representatives of government and consulted our members nationwide on steps to be taken to immediately resolve the lingering crisis.
“On Thursday, 17th August, 2017, we met with officials of the Ministry of Education and Labour and Employment where it was agreed that the union should consult and ‘revert back to government’. Following due consultation, we have collated the views of our members on the offers from government and were submitted to Federal Government.
“As we await the Federal Government’s action on our letter, we hope that it would not be long before we receive a positive response which will bring an end to the dispute. Meanwhile, we thank all Nigerians, particularly our students (and their parents) and the media, for their understanding, so far, on the need to speedily address the issues in the best interest of the Nigerian university system and for the overall development of the country.
Meanwhile, the Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has called on the parties to adopt a constructive engagement with a human face to resolve the lingering issues that led to the declaration of the strike.
The association gave the Federal Government a 21-day ultimatum to resolve the issues to enable students to return to school. It threatened that the failure of this ultimatum would lead to a total shutdown of activities across the nation by the students.
According to the President of NANS, Comrade Chinonso Obasi, “incessant strikes and stoppage of academic activities as a result of lack of agreements or lack of adherence and implementation of duly executed memorandum of agreements between the Federal Government and ASUU does not reflect and demonstrate commitment to the sustainable development of the nation’s education sector and human capital.”