The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday game the conditions for calling off its strike. It said only a speedy and positive response from the Federal Government to its letter would end the dispute.
ASUU’s National President, Biodun Ogunyemi, made this known in a statement.
Labour and Employment Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige yesterday said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had not taken over the negotiations with ASUU.
Ogunyemi said the letter dated August 28 bears the unions position on what the government is offering in respect of the issues at stake.
Ogunyemi said the letter followed earlier meetings with the officials of the ministries of Education and Labour and Employment where it was agreed that ASUU should consult with members and “revert back to the federal government.”
The ASUU boss identified “registration of Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company (NUPEMCO), fractionalisation of salaries in federal universities and underfunding/non – funding of state universities” as issues requiring resolution between the ASUU and the federal government.
Others are arrears and implementation of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), release of fund for revitalisation of the nation’s public universities as spelt out in the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding, guidelines for retirement benefits of professors in line with the 2009 FGN – ASUU agreement, Treasury Single Account(TSA) and withdrawal of support for universities’ staff primary schools.
The ASUU National President lauded Nigerians, particularly students, parents and the media for their understanding “on the need to speedily address the issues in the best interest of the university system and overall development of the nation.”
The union has been on comprehensive and total strike action on August 13 following what the lecturers alleged as FG non – implementation of the agreement with the academic body.
Senator Ngige dismissed speculations of uncertainty over government negotiation with the lecturers, saying they were working round the clock to ensure the issues in dispute are resolved as soon as possible.
The Minister had told newsmen after a scheduled meeting with the leadership of ASUU last week Tuesday that some aspects of the counter offer by the union required approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to continue with the talks.
However, after the FEC meeting last Wednesday he was quoted as saying “Government is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that we reach a conclusive agreement with ASUU so that they can go back to the class room. This is the first national strike that this government is facing and we want to discuss.
“At council today, the Vice President has taken over some of the aspects of the negotiations and discussions. So, we are continuing the meeting in his office and when we finish meeting, we will get back to ASUU for another round of meeting and we are hopeful that we will be able to go to an appreciable extent to solve some of the outstanding issues that is preventing them from going back to work.”
The Minister’s statement that the Vice President has taken over some of the aspects of the negotiations and discussion and was interpreted to mean Osinbajo has taken over the negotiation, a position the office of the Vice President has since denied.
In a statement from the Ministry of Labour and Employment by the Deputy Director, Samuel Olowookere, the Minister said reporters misinterpreted his statement about the negotiation.
He emphasised his Ministry was working with the Ministry of Education to resolve the matter.
According to him: “The Vice President has not taken over the matter. The meeting in his office was in consolidation of negotiations.
“Engagement of the striking ASUU members is still being handled by Ministers of Labour and Employment and the Minister of Education.
“Issues of strike by an employee is a labour matter. The Minister of Labour and Employment is therefore synergising with his Education counterpart where the strike occurred to resolve the dispute.
“Just as the Minister of Labour and Employment led negotiation with the National Association of Resident Doctors in conjunction with the Minister of Health, the same applies in the case of ASUU.
The statement added Ngige specifically told reporters that government’s negotiating team on ASUU strike was to meet with the Vice President, adding that “It was reporters that interpreted it to mean the Vice President has taken over negotiation.”