As the nationwide strike action across Nigerian universities enters exactly one month and seven days Tuesday, December 11, the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have finally reached a partial agreement.
Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, announced this after a reconciliation meeting on Monday in Abuja.
Ngige said the meeting was aimed at finding ways of ending the strike, which commenced on Nov. 5.
He said: “we have finished our deliberation for today. I am happy to report that we touched some areas of understanding in implementation from the Memorandum of Action which we agreed to in 2017.
“Some of these areas we have substantial compliance and some other areas have not been fully dealt with.
“Like the issue of shortfall in salaries of some Federal Universities’ workers and lecturers, ASUU has given a list to the Accountant-General’s Office and we have agreed that by Wednesday that list should be cross-checked by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Auditing.
“So, the Accountant-General’s Office is to get back to us by Wednesday.
“We also have the issue of Earned allowances, revitalisation, these are issues of 2009 agreement and partial implementation and we have agreed on the modus operandi to look into the fund situation, this is due to low revenue on the part of government. ”
Ngige added that the government was sure to have good information for the striking lecturers.
He said the same situation applied to other allowances, adding: “we have agreed on what we are going to do to make sure that the outstanding amount is handled in a way that all parties will be properly accommodated.
“We also discussed the issue of state universities and agreed also that even if education is on the concurrent list, the universities should be properly funded and staffed so that we do not produce half-baked students from those universities.
“In realisation of this the Ministry of Education will set up a committee, that would engage the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, and the Minister of Education has taken steps in that direction to formalise the interaction.
“Thus discussion are fruitful and we do hope that in the next adjourned date we would have had the requisite result on the few agreements reached today,” he said.
ASUU President, Ogunyemi (Middle)
The minister said he hoped with the agreement reached that the union would call off the strike in order for students to go back to school and those who had exams could go and take their exams.
He said the next meeting would be at 4p.m. on Dec. 17.
Also speaking, Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, ASUU National President, said they had a useful discussion.
“Our own understanding is that we heard promises made on the part of government, we shall await the report on all the issues, which they have made the promises.
“Only after that, we can get back to our members to take a decision,” NAN quoted him as saying.