ANIETIE UDOBIT, ABUJA
The earlier reported meeting between the Federal government and officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) aimed at resolving the ongoing indefinite strike by the university lecturers failed to hold as scheduled.
The leadership of the lecturers did not show up for the meeting which was scheduled to commence at 12.00 at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
It was gathered that the meeting was put off at the last minute due to counter offer received by the government from the leadership of the union.
Addressing newsmen, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said the meeting had to be put off to enable the government team to consider the counter offer received from the union and to possibly get the nod of the Federal Executive Council on some of the issues contained in the union’s demand.
The Minister said: “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 a meeting and we will meet later today and formalize our position. Tomorrow 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, which ever will be more convenient.”
The President of the Union, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi also confirmed that the union has placed a counter demand before the government and expressed the hope that the union will receive a positive response from the government within the shortest possible time.
In a statement made available to newsmen, the ASUU President said after due consultations with its members on August 17, 2017, meeting with the government, it has collated the views of its members and submitted same to the government.
The statement reads: “Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were forced to proceed on indefinite, comprehensive and total strike action on Sunday 13th August 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 in steps to be taken to immediately resolve the lingering crisis. Among issues in the dispute are registration of , fractionalization of salaries in federal universities and gross under funding/ non-funding of state universities, and arrears and implementation of Earned Academic Allowance.
“Other issues are the release of fund for the revitalization 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.
“On Thursday, we met with officials of the Ministry 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 the government in dispute in the letter of 16th August 2017. These views were submitted to the federal government vide our letter dated 28th August 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 in 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.”