The academic staff union of universities ASUU has rejected the plea of the government for the union to call off its ongoing strike action. It was disclosed that the union met with the federal government and maintained its stance on its industrial strike action.
The chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, was said to have invited the union to a dialogue at the Aso Rock villa. The meeting had in attendance, the minister of labor Sen. Chris Ngige and the chairman of the union Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke.
The meeting was co-chaired by the sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Christian Association of Nigeria’s president, Dr. Supo Ayokunle. It also had in attendance other registered trade unions in universities, as well as identified interest groups and civil society groups. According to information gathered, the federal government persuaded the union to call off its ongoing industrial strike actions, with a promise that their demands will be met.
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However, the chairman of ASUU Prof. Osodeke was hell-bent on maintaining his stance on the strike action. He told the federal government to meet part of their demands which they could use in convincing their members to call off the ongoing strike.
The minister of labor Sen. Chris Ngige during the meeting disclosed that the federal government had reached an agreement with ASUU in order to meet its demands. He further disclosed that there have been certain timelines set, and some specific parts of the agreement would be implemented from next week.
Recall that ASUU has on several occasions complained of its wage renegotiation of 2009 which the government has failed to pay for a long time now, which is also one of its reasons for embarking on strike. However, Sen. Chris Ngige revealed that the issues of wage review and renegotiation of 2009 would be addressed by the government.
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 the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement in terms of the condition of service and wage review. So we are hopeful that by next weekend the unions will see a conclusion in that area”
The chief of staff to the presidency, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari however pleaded with the union to consider the plight of the students so that they can return to the classrooms. The meeting ended in a deadlock as ASUU was not convinced enough by the federal government to call off its strike action.
It is not just enough for the government to plead with ASUU to call off its strike action, the union has told the government to meet part of the demands in other for them to convince their other members to call off the strike. The reasonable thing for the government to do at this moment is to meet part of the union’s demands, that way they will show their seriousness to convince the union to call off the strike.
ASUU is in dire need of resources as it stands now, and they won’t call off the strike by just mere pleas from the government, they need to be encouraged at least with a certain amount of money. The government has on several occasions pleaded with the union to return to the classroom while they sort their demands, but has always defaulted. ASUU seem to understand their usual gimmick as they are not taking any chances this time around.
The government must come to the understanding that the only language ASUU will understand at this juncture, is money and not unnecessary dialogue.