A meeting called by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Agboola Gambari, and the Minister of Labor and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Thursday, ended in a stalemate as the Federal Government and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council failed to persuade the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end their strike.
The conference, which was co-chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Supo Ayokunle, failed to persuade ASUU leaders to return to the classrooms while negotiations to meet their demands were underway.
During the closed-door technical session, the FG and NIREC allegedly tried to encourage the union to return to the classrooms by guaranteeing that their demands would be met.
The ASUU leadership, on the other hand, claimed that the government had to accept some of their requests, which they might use to persuade their members to end the strike.
Other registered labor unions in universities, as well as identified interest groups and civil society groups, attended the conference, which was hosted in the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
However, Ngige provided an update on the meeting, stating that the Federal Government had reached an agreement with the union, stating that certain timetables had been established and that particular elements of the accords will be implemented beginning next week.
The issues of pay review and renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, according to the minister, would be addressed soon.
He stated, “We have reached some agreements and we hope that by next week, those agreements will be maturing and the different unions will have something to tell their members, so that they can call off the strike.
“We have put some timelines for some aspects like renegotiation of 2009 agreement in terms of condition of service and wage review. So, we are hopeful that by next weekend, the unions will see a conclusion of that area.”
However, Prof Emmanuel Osedeke, ASUU President, noted that NIREC had previously intervened in the issues in November, and that the Sultan and CAN leader also met with President Muhammadu Buhari, who set up a three-man committee that met with the union for the first time on Thursday.
He stated, “Why our people are worried is this: even when we had gone on strike for 12 weeks, that committee is meeting with us for the first time today. Suppose we didn’t go on strike, it’s going to take three years. That is the problem we are having in the system. I believe these problems can be resolved within three days if the will is there on both sides.”
ASUU’s roll-over strike, which began on February 14, was extended for another 12 weeks on Monday.
Funding for the revitalization of public universities, Earned Academic Allowances, the University Transparency Accountability Solution, and promotion arrears are among its requests.
Renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and inconsistencies in the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System are among the others.