The Federal Government and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council meeting with the Academic Staff Union of Universities on thursday 12 May ended in deadlock as they could not persuade the Union to return to the classrooms while negotiations to meet their demands were still ongoing.
The meeting was called by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Agboola Gambari, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, also co-chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Christian Association of Nigeria’s president, Dr. Supo Ayokunle and was held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the meeting was attended by other registered trade unions in universities, as well as identified interest groups and civil society groups.
It was confirmed that the FG and NIREC made efforts to persuade the union, promising that their demands would be met, but the ASUU leadership reportedly insisted for the government to meet part of their demands which they could use in convincing their members to call off the ongoing strike.
According Hon. Ngige said that the Federal Government had reached an agreement with the union, adding that certain timelines had been set and that specific parts of the agreements would be implemented from next week.
In his words: “We have reached some agreements and we hope that by next week, those agreements will be maturing and the different unions will have something to tell their members, so that they can call off the strike.
“We have put some timelines for some aspects like renegotiation of 2009 agreement in terms of condition of service and wage review. So, we are hopeful that by next weekend, the unions will see a conclusion of that area.”
ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osedeke, recalled that NIREC had earlier intervened in the issues last November, noting that the Sultan and CAN leader also met with the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who set up a three-man committee which met with the union for the first time on Thursday.
He stated, “Why our people are worried is this: even when we had gone on strike for 12 weeks, that committee is meeting with us for the first time today. Suppose we didn’t go on strike, it’s going to take three years. That is the problem we are having in the system. I believe these problems can be resolved within three days if the will is there on both sides.”