Renegotiation between the striking university lecturers and the Federal Government is expected to start this week with the inauguration of a community charged with that responsibility.
The four-week ‘roll-over total and comprehensive strike action’ declared by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), enters its last week.
According to the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Education, Mr Ben Goong, the Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu will inaugurate the committee on Monday.
Its primary task is to renegotiate the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU.
With the seven-member committee giving a six-week mandate to turn in its report, it is yet to be seen if the union would call its members down.
Distrust is at the heart of the dispute. Over the years, government had made promises which the union accused it on reneging on.
The government, for instance, agreed with ASUU in 2009 that the condition of service of university lecturers, which includes their salaries and allowances, would be reviewed every five years.
But with a third review due in 2024, ASUU accused the Federal Government of failure to implement some of the agreements.
ASUU leaders are talking tough, accusing the government of delay tactics. For instance, the Coordinator of ASUU’s Lagos zone, Dr Adelaja Odukoya told Premium Times that there is no basis for the union to suspend its ongoing roll-over strike.
‘There is really nothing on ground to warrant ASUU convening either congresses or national executive committee meeting. The government isn’t serious yet and we have stated very clearly at the beginning that there is no longer any room for Memorandum of Understanding or action, but the action itself’, he said.
Odukoya explained that the lecturers’ conditions of service as contained in the 2009 renegotiated agreement, and the adoption of the Universities Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) in replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS) must be addressed immediately, if the strike action is to be reconsidered.
The ASUU official said it has been demonstrated clearly that IPPIS is ‘a monumental fraud,’ as he declared that, . Its replacement by UTAS, which was developed by ASUU members, has been tested and passed the integrity test.
At the end of the last conciliation meeting with ASUU on Tuesday, Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige said although both parties agreed on a lot of things, the conditions of service and the deployment of UTAS were being worked on.
The Minister said that within six weeks, the committee set up at the Ministry of Education would file in its recommendations.
Since ASUU downed tools three weeks ago, it has twice met with the government delegation for resolutions.