The Federal Government’s efforts to make the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its nationwide strike failed yesterday.
As it was gathered that at a meeting with ASUU in Abuja, the Federal Government asked the lecturers to end their strike, but both parties did not agree on some issues.
ASUU consequently rejected the FG’s request to call off the strike.
Our correspondents gathered that the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the demand of the union that universities should be exempted from the Treasury Single Account.
ASUU had on Sunday called a nationwide strike over the failure of the Federal Government to implement the 2009 agreement between the two sides.
The ASUU president had, at a press conference on Monday, explained that the union decided to go on the strike after the FG failed to implement the 2009 agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding it signed with ASUU in 2013.
He listed the areas in dispute in the current industrial action to include funding for the revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, the registration of the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company and pension matters, fractionalization and non-payment of salaries and the issue of universities’ staff schools.
A source, who was present at the meeting, told The PUNCH that the Federal Government promised to honor all of ASUU’s requests except the one regarding the TSA.
The source said the government admitted wrongdoing and appealed to the lecturers to call off the strike immediately, but the appeal was rejected by ASUU leaders, who pleaded for time to meet their members because of the TSA.
He said, “The meeting was straightforward. The government admitted wrongdoing and promised to honor its past promises. The only issue on which no agreement was reached was the TSA.
The members of ASUU executive said they would meet with their members and give us a response next week.”
Addressing journalists after the meeting, Ngige stated that the government was expecting a feedback from ASUU on the overtures made to it, adding that the union promised to return to the negotiation table within one week.
He explained that the government position was drafted by the Ministers of Education (Adamu Adamu); Labour and Employment (Ngige); Finance, (Kemi Adeosun); and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and was communicated to ASUU.
Ngige said, “Within the last 48 hours, the government has been working; the Minister of Education, Minister of Finance, Attorney General of the Federation met and we have taken some government positions which we have communicated to ASUU leaders to take back to their members to see if that is adequate enough for them to call off the strike.”
“The major issue is that we want the strike called off so that our children in school can write their degree and promotion exams. ASUU leaders said they will come back to us on a date within the next one week. It will not be later than one week,” the minister said.
ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi, said he would not go into the specifics of the offers made by the government until he met with his members, adding that the union would not call off the strike.
He said, “Like the minister said, government has made offers on the issues we have raised, but we have to get back to our members for them to consider the offers and advise us. Based on their position, we will come back to government, hopefully within the next one week.”
Explaining why he could not call of the strike, Ogunyemi said the action was called by the union members, noting that they were the ones that would determine when it should be called off.
He said, “The offers are for our members and when we meet with them, we will come back and reveal all we agreed on.
The leadership of the union did not call the strike, our members did, and they will decide when to suspend the strike.”