President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu to resolve the five-month logjam in public universities within two weeks. This followed Tuesday’s briefing of the President by government institutions involved in the protracted negotiation between the Federal Government and the labour unions in the universities.
But the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) responded that it would only call off the strike, which started on 14 February, if all its demands are met. It added that it would not suspend but permanently end its ongoing boycott of work.
President Buhari also instructed that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha to be in attendance at all the meetings to fast-track the resolution of the crisis.
In addition to Adamu, Ngige, and Mustapha, others present at the meeting included the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami; the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan; the Chairman of National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Mr Ekpo Nta; and the Director-General Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze.
Among ASUU’s grouse is the adoption of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System of the government as the payment system for university staff members. Also highlighted are poor funding of universities, non-payment of salaries and allowances of some staff, and the failure of the government to pay earned academic allowance to lecturers.
In a statement by its President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU said: “We want to end strike. We are not suspending the strike. You can only end strike when all the demands have been met”.
He said he was not aware of the rumoured plan by the Federal Government to increase salaries of ASUU members by 100 percent, adding, “if the government wants to negotiate with us, they know the right channel”.
The Chairman of the Joint Action Committee of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions, Mr Mohammed Ibrahim, also condemned the report which stated that a higher percentage of salary was recommended for ASUU while SSANU was excluded.
“We have not been invited we are looking forward to the invitation, We only met with (Prof. Nimi) Briggs renegotiation committee twice and they didn’t give us the opportunity to discuss financials, we only discussed issues about conditions of service. The committee should give all the unions a level playing field. If they discussed financials with ASUU, they should discuss with other unions too,” Ibrahim said.