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Friday, 18 August 2017

Strike: FG, ASUU meeting ends in deadlock

By Henry Umoru, Dayo Adesulu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, & Joseph Erunke

We’ll get back to govt within a week — ASUU President

ASUU’ll call off strike next week, we’ll release N53bn — FG

ABUJA— The meeting held between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday, to resolve the ongoing strike embarked upon the union ended in a deadlock.

President Muhammadu Buhari and ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi

Both parties, however, agreed to reconvene within a week to continue the negotiations.

While Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and his counterpart in Education, Adamu Adamu, represented the Federal Government, ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, led the union’s team.

Vanguard investigation revealed that the government made some offers during the less than one hour meeting, which both sides refused to disclose to the media.

It was learned that the offers were, however, acceptable to the union leaders.

Briefing newsmen shortly after the meeting, both sides said there was tremendous progress, following offers made by government and position of the union on the new offers.

But both the representatives of government and ASUU refused to disclose the offers just as ASUU President said he was taking the deliberations and offers by government to members, with a view to responding appropriately to them within one week.

Ngige said: “The meeting, as you can see, was not very long and we touched on various areas of the dispute. The major issue is for us to see that the strike is called off so that our children can go back to school and ASUU graciously said they would come back to us on a date within the next one week.”

On his part, ASUU president, Prof. Ogunyemi, said: “Well, like the Honourable Minister said, there were some offers by government and we have taken copious notes of their offers but we have to get back to our members, lay all the information available to them first to consider and advise us.

“So, based on their advice, based on their positions, we will come back to government, with a view to getting responses.”

ASUU’ll call off strike next week, we’ll release N53bn — FG

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said yesterday, that the on-going strike by ASUU would be called off next week, adding that N53 billion would be released to the union.

Speaking before the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, led by Senator Jibrin Barau APC, Kano North, the Minister disclosed that the executive arm of government had commenced plans to ensure that it honoured the agreement with ASUU.

The Minister, who noted that he had written to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for the money, disclosed that she had already approved the money, adding that the money would be paid on Monday when the striking lecturers would receive the cheque.

He said: “ASUU asked for N23billion to be paid, but we said the condition for getting the N23billion was for them to account for the N30billion they had taken and they were not able to account for it.

“The Minister of Finance undertook to do the audit from the ministry and we agreed that the result will be known in six months. During that six months, government undertook to be paying ASUU N1.5billion each month during the time they were waiting for this.

‘’However, their grouse was that the forensic audit promised by the Minister of Finance had not been done and the money promised not paid.

“So, at our meeting two days ago, the agreement was to pay them all and do forensic audit on the entire N53billion.

“That was what I tried to do yesterday (Wednesday). I wrote to the Minister of Finance and she has already approved and this money will be paid. Probably, by Monday, they will be able to receive the cheque.

“We didn’t agree with ASUU on their request that TSA should be taken out. I told them that it is not possible because it is a new policy and government is not going to change it for anyone.

“Concerning their salary short fall, we said the reason springs from universities employing people without proper authority.

“For instance, a university can just decide to go and recruit 50 people without notifying IPPIS. So, what they are going to get is the money they got last month, which will not be sufficient for them. We have told them that institutions should, henceforth, stop doing that and they accepted.

“There is the issue of registration of their pension commission. I think they have one or two issues to iron out with PENCOM and I believe they will also be able to solve the problem within a week.

“The issue of renegotiation is already ongoing, which will not affect what we have said. I have already written a letter formalizing the meeting and all the agreements we had with ASUU and gave them the letter yesterday.

“From the way they received it, I think it is possible that the strike will be called off within a week maximum.”

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Jibrin Barau, commended the Minister for his efforts towards ensuring that the situation was resolved and the strike called off.

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