As the eight-week warning strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ends this week, the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has urged the Federal Government and the striking ASUU to resolve lingering issues in order to end the ongoing strike.
This is even as ASUU has given indication of commencing another of warning strike and other unions within the academic environment have also withdrawn their services.
The unions are the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Education and Allied Institutions (NASU).
During a meeting with the NAAT last Friday, Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige promised to meet with ASUU this week.
But ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said on Sunday that the union had not receive any notice of meeting from the Ministry of Labour and Employment over its ongoing strike.
“No, we have not received any notice of meeting from them. They didn’t call us. We are not begging them to meet with us and we will not go to them if they do not invite us. It is part of his (Ngige’s) political campaign. We didn’t receive any invite”, he said.
Ngige is one of the presidential aspirants in the ruling All Progressives Congress.
But the spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong said that the government had continually reached out to the union.
“The negotiating team is meeting ASUU this week. I cannot say when but I am very sure they will be meeting. The team has reached out to ASUU,” Goong said.
“It is not true that we have not been communicating with them. ASUU is making series of demands, including increase in salary. If we have not been communicating, who then are they making their demands to?,” he queried.
For the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, it is crucial for both parties to come to an agreement to end the strike as soon as possible.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja. Chairman of the committee, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo urged both disputing parties to honour the agreements entered into for academic activities to commence in the affected universities.
“ASUU and the Federal Government should amicably resolve all lingering issues”, he said.
Edoumiekumo, who is the Vice Chancellor of Niger Delta University, expressed optimism that the issues would be resolved soon.
ASUU had on 14th February embarked on strike to press home some demands, including call for government to implement the Memorandum of Action on funding for revitalisation of public universities, which was signed in December 2020 .
Other demands are Earned Academic Allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution among others
Although Ngige had met with the leadership of SSANU, NAAT, and NASU, nothing concrete came out of the sessions.
On his part, the National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma expressed disgust with the continued closure of the universities.
“We cannot continue to waste the time of our children. They are staying much at home than in school now. It is unfortunate that we are yet to get over the issue of the closure of our higher institutions incessantly. That is a minus for the system. How do we expect foreigners to respect our certificates?
“Incidentally, it is not everybody that can afford to send their children abroad to study. We must make our education sector work and put an end to this rot. We plead with the government and the university workers to find a mid-course and resolve this issue and let academic activities resume in these institutions”, he said
Students from various tertiary institutions have been on street protests in Ibadan, Benin, Abuja and Lagos calling for an end to the strike and for universities to reopen.