…FEC to deliberate on impasse today
… NANS gives FG 21-day ultimatum
The meeting between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the ongoing strike yesterday suffered a major setback as ASUU made a counter offer to the government.
The federal government, through the Ministry of Education had, on August 16, 2017, made an offer to the union to suspend their ongoing strike, with ASUU promising to relay same to their members and report back to government.
But in a sudden twist of event, ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi in a statement yesterday, said the union after consultation with its members, submitted the views to government, while the teachers await positive response to end the dispute.
“Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were forced to proceed on indefinite, comprehensive and total strike action on Sunday, August 13, 2017, following government failure to implement issues, on which understanding was reached during the suspended warning strike of November 2016.
“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. Among the issues in the dispute are registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), fractionalisation of salaries in federal universities and gross under- funding/non-funding of state universities, and arrears/implementation of Earned Academic Allowance.
“Other issues are release of fund for revitalisation of public universities as spelt out in the
2013 Memorandum of Understanding, guidelines for retirement benefits of professors in line with 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, Treasury Single Account (TSA) and withdrawal of support for universities staff primary schools,” Ogunyemi said.
Continuing, the ASUU leader recalled that “on Thursday, we met with officials of the Ministries of Education and Labour and Employment where it was agreed that the union should consult and revert to government.
“Following due consultations, we have collated the views of our members on the offers from government in dispute in the letter of 16th August, 2017. These views were submitted to the federal government vide our letter dated August 28, 2017.
“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 t of the country.”
Meeting suspended –FG
Earlier, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the meeting was suspended because ASUU put forward counter offer to government.
The minister further said at the moment, government representatives were deliberating on the counter demands by the union, and that there were aspects that needed Federal Executive Council approval.
Briefing journalists, Ngige said: “Today, we were supposed to have a formal meeting with the stakeholders in the government side and ASUU. But we have some new developments which made it mandatory that we roll over this meeting to the next day, because government as you know on August 16 gave ASUU an offer through the Ministry of Education.
“ASUU, late yesterday, got back to us that they needed us to deliberate on their counter offer before we can have a formalised meeting and we acceded to that because we think we need to do a government side meeting on their counter offer before we can have a reconciliatory meeting to further discuss, if there are areas of disagreement, or stamp an authority to what their demands will be. So that is the position.
“As we speak now, we have a government side meeting inside my office, the Minister of Education is on another meeting and we are going to collapse into a full government side meeting by 3pm today (yesterday) to formalise our position and look at ASUU’s request.
“That is why we have not been out here, but we decided to come and address you on what the current situation is. After this address, we will go back to government side meeting and continue. Tomorrow is Federal Executive Council and we will also need council approval for some of the things we are doing. Thereafter, we would then meet with ASUU, may be tomorrow evening or Thursday morning, whichever is convenient to both parties.”
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has given the federal government a 21-day ultimatum to resolve the lingering industrial action by the university teachers to enable students return to school.
The association threatened to shut down the country if government fails to resolve the issues and end the strike within the stipulated time.
The threat was contained in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja by NANS President, Chinonso Obasi.
The association called on government and ASUU to have “constructive engagement” to resolve the lingering issues that led to the declaration of the strike.”
Obasi said incessant and prolonged strike was one of the factors responsible for the falling standard of education in Nigeria.
“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 do not reflect and demonstrate commitment to the sustainable development of the nation’s education sector and human capital,” he said.
Obasi said NANS had called on the Senate to convene an emergency meeting to deliberate on the strike and other issues of critical national importance.
“NANS will await the outcome of meeting (between government and ASUU) to determine the next line of action.”
The association called on parties to allow sensitivity and patriotism play a major role in resolving the issues “to save education in the nation and avert unfortunate developments associated with the idleness of young people.”