The federal government of Nigeria and officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) disagreed again Tuesday over modalities to end the five month industrial action by striking lecturers in Nigerian public universities.
While President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige should be part of meetings to resolve the crisis, the ASUU leadership said it would not participate in any process involving the minister.
Aside from ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have been in similar industrial action for different reasons.
Some of the demands of ASUU include: Revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for payment of university lecturers among others
In March, the the Federal Government inaugurated a seven-person committee tasked with the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The committee is chaired by Pro-Chancellor, Alex Ekweme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs.
With the ASUU strike lingering for months, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) declared a nationwide protest for July 26 and 27 to show solidarity with the striking lecturers.
Also, the Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) at the weekend threatened to join the strike action if the demands of ASUU are not met by the federal government.
Buhari on Tuesday directed the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, to resolve the prolonged industrial action embarked upon by ASUU and three other university-based unions.
Reacting to Buhari’s recent order, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, stressed that Ngige, as an “acclaimed conciliator” had been the major spanner in the wheels of negotiations between unions and the Federal government.
“When NIREC met the president on this issue, he directed a three-man committee to resolve this issue within a short period of time. If you remember, the committee was made up of the Chief of Staff, ministers of labour and education. That was around February, where are we now? We are in July, did they resolve it?
“Similarly, these two weeks, our prayers and prayers of many Nigerians is that they can resolve these issues within two weeks if that man called the Minister of Labour, Ngige is not part of it. We have to be very clear because he’s the one creating the problems.
“But we will watch because what I read is that the person who is now leading that team is the minister of education. With Adamu, we do hope that he will do the interference of this minister of labour so that it can be resolved. It is a good development but we hope they will meet the two-week deadline,” he said.
While addressing press men earlier, Osodeke maintained that the union would not succumb to blackmail, alleging that Ngige had been feeding the general public with lies, hence the press conference.
“Specifically, there have been insinuations by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, that there was no agreement between ASUU and the government; that ASUU sat down to fix its own members’ salaries; and that our union asked representatives of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to recuse themselves from the negotiations.’
Meanwhile, the SSANU warned Prof. Nimi-Briggs-led Committee renegotiating the 2009 Agreement that it would not accept any disparity in salaries of university staff, saying it would take legal action against such development.
President of SSANU, Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim, in a statement issued last night over alleged proposed salary disparity by the Nimi-Briggs Committee, said it would cause fresh problems in the university systems if care is not taken.
Copyright: News Central TV
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central TV.