FG comes to a decision on ASUU’s demands today as union shuns meeting


There are strong indications that the
Federal Executive Council will , at its
meeting on Wednesday (today ) decide
on the demands of the Academic Staff
Union of Universities.
The Minister of Labour and
Employment , Dr . Chris Ngige , who
gave this indication in an interview
with journalists on Tuesday , said the
university lecturers had deliberated on
the offers made to them by the
government at a meeting on August
17 .
Also, the union, in a statement on
Tuesday , said it would call off its strike
after receiving a positive response to
its demands from the Federal
Government.
The lecturers boycotted a meeting
which was scheduled to hold between
the government and the union on
Tuesday .
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ASUU, on August 13 , began a
nationwide strike over the failure of
the Federal Government to implement
an agreement it reached with the
union in 2009 .
The union also alleged that the Federal
Government did not implement the
Memorandum of Understanding the
two sides signed in 2013.
Based on the 2009 agreement , the
demands of ASUU include funding for
the revitalisation of public
universities; payment of earned
academic allowances; and the
registration of the Nigerian
Universities Pension Management
Company and pension matters.
At the meeting on August 17 , it was
learnt the Federal Government offered
to pay the union N23 bn and carry out
an audit of N30 bn earlier given to the
university lecturers.
It was also gathered that government
rejected a request by ASUU that
universities should be exempted from
the Treasury Single Account, but
agreed to set up an interest - bearing
account for university endowments.
Ngige , in the interview with
journalists explained why ASUU did
not attend a meeting it was scheduled
to hold with the government on
Tuesday .
He said the union , in a letter dated
August 28 , stated that it had
considered offers made by the
government and made its counter -
offer.
The minister said the Federal
Government would deliberate on the
union’ s counter - offer.
“ Tomorrow (today , 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 evening or Thursday
morning , whichever will be more
convenient ,” Ngige added.
The labour minister explained that the
government side was expected to
discuss the ASUU ’s counter - offer in
order to hold a meeting with the
lecturers’ body to resolve the areas of
disagreement.
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He stated , “ The government , as you
know, has made an offer to ASUU
through the ministry of education and
late yesterday (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 .
“ We are holding a government side
meeting, while the Minister of
Education is also holding meeting and
we will meet later today (Tuesday ) and
formalise our position. ”
We ’ re awaiting FG ’ s response, says
ASUU
But in the statement on Tuesday , the
union explained why it boycotted the
Tuesday ’s meeting with the Federal
Government.
It stated that government ’s positive
response to its demand would bring
the strike to an end .
The union, in a statement by its
President, Prof . Biodun Ogunyemi,
referred the government to its letter
dated August 28 , 2017, where it
expressed its demands .
The government had , in a statement
on Monday night, announced that
Ngige would meet with the president
and executive members of ASUU in
Abuja.
In its statement on Tuesday , ASUU said
it was awaiting a positive response to
its demands, thanking Nigerians for
their understanding .
It read , “ Following due consultation ,
we have collated the views of our
members on the offers from
government in dispute in the letter
dated August 16 . These views were
submitted to FG vide our letter dated
August 28 .
“ 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. ”
When asked why his team failed to
show up for the meeting with the
government, Ogunyemi declined
comment , referring one of our
correspondents to his statement.
Ogunyemi also refused to disclose the
contents of ASUU’ s counter - offer to the
government in a telephone interview
with The PUNCH on Tuesday .
He stated , “ We submitted our report to
the FG yesterday (Monday ) but we
can ’t discuss that with the press now .
What they have promised us is that
they were going to get back to us as
soon as possible.’’
However , a source told one of our
correspondents that what the union
presented to the FG on Monday was
not new.
“ Our demands are not new and they
include the revitalisation fund that we
have been asking for , the retirement
of academics with the full complement
of their salaries and others . Nothing is
new,’’ said the source .
Senate calls for patience , continuous
dialogue
Meanwhile, the Chairman , Senate
Committee on Media and Public
Affairs, Sabi Abdullahi, has called for
patience as the Federal Government
and ASUU seek an amicable solution to
the strike embarked upon by the
lecturers.
Sabi said this in a telephone interview
with The PUNCH in Abuja on Tuesday .
He said the Senate, being a responsible
institution, was concerned about the
crisis and was intervening in the
dispute to assist in bringing about a
lasting solution to the crisis in the
education sector.
He stated, “ If you remember , Senator
Barau Jibrin has been on this matter
despite the fact that we are on recess .
This issue is about continuous
engagement but as you know , the bulk
of the issue is not with us (The Senate).
“ I will just call on Nigerians to be
patient with us because of this holiday .
I am sure after Sallah , when we are all
on the ground , things will begin to
take shape . ”
NANS summons emergency meeting
Also, the National Association of
Nigerian Students has summoned an
emergency meeting to deliberate on its
next line of action on the ongoing
strike by ASUU .
The meeting, it was learnt , would
deliberate on the strike and other
issues of critical national importance
and take a position on the way
forward .
The students also called on the Federal
Government and ASUU to engage in
constructive discussion to resolve the
lingering issues that led to the
declaration of the strike.
It called on the parties to “ save the
education sector and the future of
Nigerian students in the interest of the
nation.”
The President of NANS , Chinonso
Obasi, said this in an interview with
The PUNCH on Tuesday .
Obasi stated that NANS would await
the outcome of the meeting between
government and ASUU to determine its
next line of action .
He said , “ We have fixed an emergency
meeting of NANS , which will give
approval to the action of NANS upon
the expiration of the 21 days
ultimatum given for the ASUU strike to
be called off .
“ The meeting is scheduled to hold on
September 7 in Ilorin , the Kwara State
capital .”
NANS decried the incessant and
prolonged strikes as one of the factors
responsible for the falling standard of
education in Nigeria apart from the
attendant untold hardship on the
students, parents and guardians.
Obasi said , “ 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
agreement between the Federal
Government and ASUU do not reflect
and demonstrate commitment to the
sustainable development of the
nation’s education sector and the
development of the nation’s human
capital .
“ We are calling on the government
and ASUU to demonstrate sensitivity
and a great sense of patriotism in
resolving the issues at the earliest
convenience to save education in the
nation and avert unfortunate
developments associated with the
idleness of young people. ”
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