The ongoing industrial action by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which has grounded academic activities in several Universities across the country, might end within one week.
Indications of this emerged after the ASUU members agreed to consider the federal government’s offer and suspend their strike, following a closed door meeting between ASUU and the government delegation in Abuja.
The leadership of ASUU, however, said though it accepted the proposal presented by the government, it will take the proposal to its members and get back to the government in a week.
The national president of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, revealed to journalists after the meeting that the union will come back after one week to take its final decisions.
“Now we have some concrete proposal that we will take back to our members for consideration,” he said.
On his part, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said ASUU’s demands have been addressed and the union will get back to the government in a week after consulting with its principals.
The meeting started 1:38pm on Thursday and ended 2:15 a.m. on Friday, Premium Times reports.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, Nigeria’s minister of labour and productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, revealed the government had pledged to release the sum of N220 billion not later than October 2017 to fund the revitalization of federal universities across the country as well as other concrete decisions agreed upon at the meeting between the two sides.
Full speech presented by Chris Ngige reads thus:
“We have concluded negotiations, the government and the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
“The ASUU negotiating team and the government discussed salient issues and most of those issues are well-known to the media but for the purposes of clarity,I can go around the grounds again.
“There’s one funding for revitalization of public universities and the issue of Earn Academic Allowances, EAA, the issue of Staff Schools that there was a court judgement, the issue of National Universities Pension Commission,and the issue of salary shortfalls for lecturers and staff of universities.
“There is the issue of TSA exemption and the problems in the state universities.All are the issues that ASUU felt that government should address.
“Most of these issues stemmed from the 2009 agreement that government had ASUU and also from the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, that the government had with ASUU.
“Government is a continum, most of those issues were not issues that cropped up from the Buhari administration,we inherited them.But be that as it may, like I said, government is a continum. So we are to really address those issues,we inherited them but there are issues concerning the welfare of our people.”
“So,on the issue of funding for the revitalization of public universities, this negotiating team discussed in detail and extensively on that.”
“This is the fund that would be needed for the revitalization of public universities in terms of their working tools and other things needed for effective performance of their duties.”
“There was an agreement from the MoU of 2009 and that of 2013, for government to be making some quarterly payments into this fund.”
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“And from 2014 to date, it has not been possible for government to pay or they didn’t pay. But this government has been negotiating with ASUU since last year.”
“Today, there’s is a government proposal which we all agreed that it can be workable.But ASUU has to take back this our proposal to their organs,so we decided that there’s an agreement for government to make some funds available in September and October to show that they are not repudiating their agreement and to also show sign of good faith.”
“However, because of inability of government to pay the required amount which is at N220 billion, a seven-man committee was proposed and ASUU leadership is expected to send in three nominees into this committee.
“It’s a technical committee so to say,a working committee and they would send in the three-man nomination,the Minister of Education will appoint three persons to represent the federal government and the chairman, making four to bring the number to seven.”
“ASUU will also send in their proposal for testing terms of reference for the committee to the minister.We expect that that will be done today since today is already a Friday.”
“This committee is expected to work out the ways and means for the government and ASUU to actualize the aspirations as per the 2013 MoU.”
“This is without prejudice to the Babalakin committee on the re-negotiation of the 2009 MoU between the Federal Government and ASUU.”
“On the issue of Earn Academic Allowances, we have listened and payment has started in that direction.Same with staff schools.
“Government is though not appealing, we have agreed that the decision should be conveyed to the various universities.
“Issue of NUPENCO was addressed and ways have been fashioned out for the registration of that company.
“Salary shortfalls for lecturers and university staff were also addressed and government has shown their commitment and evidence that payments have started in order to liquidate the outstanding allowances.”
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“The issue of TSA exemption was also discussed and an agreement or proposal was muted by which the Central Bank would a special account for that in order for endowment funds and research grants will be exempted.”
“State universities which has been the concern for ASUU and everybody who has been looking for quality education in the country was also discussed and the Minister of Education was mandated to take the memo to the council of state and the Federal Executive Council.”
“Based on these discussions, ASUU leadership will consult with its organs and revert back to government within one week.”
“They will consult with their organs with a view to calling off the strike.And we expect them that within one week, they will get back to government.”
“These are the highlights of the meeting and I can tell you that the meeting took place in very cordial atmosphere.”
Source: Naija News