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University unions turned down FG plea to…

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—Says nothing concrete to warrant suspension of strike

By Johnnosco Agbakwuru

THE tripartite plus meeting convened by the Federal Government with the striking university based unions last night ended without any concrete agreement for the workers to go back to work.

In fact, the four university based unions that are on strike rebuffed all the government plea for them to the strike while efforts are made to address the contentious issues..

In the meeting between the federal government team, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, theSenior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, the Non-Acasemic Staff Union of Educational Institutions, NASU and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, as well as identified interest groups and Civil society organizations, over the on-going industrial actions in the Universities was held in the Banquet Hall of the Villa in Abuja,

It was to prevail on the striking workers to accept a deal of calling off their strike while efforts are being made to resolve the dispute.

However, the unions refused to back down from continuing the strike saying that there was nothing on ground from the government side to warrant that.

  • READ ALSO: Buhari to ASUU: Consider plight of Nigerian students, call off strike

Although ASUU refused to speak to journalists on the outcome of the meeting, one of the union members said that there was nothing new except that the government team wanted them to call off the strike which they rejected.

According to him, “There was nothing on ground for us to consider. We are not stopping the strike untill something concrete is done.”

The Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige who spoke to journalists after the meeting said: “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 and wage review. So, we are that by next weekend, the unions will see a conclusion of that area”.

Earlier, while addressing the leadership of the unions and stakeholders in the of the talks, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. appealed to the striking university workers to sheathe their sword and agree to return to work while discussions over their demands go on.

He said that something needs to be done urgently to reopen the institutions and to prevent students from protesting on the streets.

According to him, allowing the strike to prolong further will not be in the interest of anyone, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the team to try and end the strike so that students, lecturers and other workers can go back to work.

On their part, the two Co- of the Federal Republic of Interreligious Council (NIREC), Sultan of , Sa’ad Abubakar II and the President of the Christian Association of Federal Republic of Nigeria (CAN) Rev Samson Ayokunle urged ASUU and the non-teaching staff unions to accept the President’s plea and suspend their strike while efforts are made to address the issues in dispute.

Ayokunle specifically urged the lecturers to go back to work and allow a grace within which concrete action will be taken to aspects of the agreement.

However ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke said that before the current strike, the union had given enough period of grace to enable the government and its agencies to meet with them and to address their demands but to no avail.

He said that government has withheld the salaries of the lecturers as a strategy to force them resume work.

He said that most of the contents of the 2020 Memoradum of Action were based on the federal government sponsored NEEDS assessment on all federal universities in 2013.

As a of the assessment, Osodake said that federal government that a total sum of N1.3 trillion is needed to fund the revitalization of the universities.

According to him, the release of the money was to be stretched over a six year period.

He said that the Jonathan- administration the Implementation with release of the first tranche of N200 in 2014.

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