PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, two weeks within which to resolve the prolonged strike embarked upon by the four university-based unions and report back to him.
Recall that unions in the aviation and banking sectors had on Monday, threatened to team up with the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, in the protest planned for next Tuesday and Wednesday against government’s refusal to resolve the varsity unions’strike.
The four unions in the university system, including the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, NASU, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT, had been on strike for over five months as a result of government’s failure to meet their demands.
The demands include withdrawal of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system, IPPIS, and adoption of University, Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, for ASUU; and the University Peculiar Payroll and Payment System, U3PS or UPPPS for the non-academic unions, among others.
Although parents, under the aegis of National President, National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, saw the president’s directive as a huge relief, ASUU, however, expressed doubts about government’s seriousness about the strike.
This is even as the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, which has been mobilising for protest against the government for next week, welcomed whatever it said was needed to resolve the varsity workers’ crises, saying though NLC was not aware of the ultimatum given to education minister, it was in support of it.
However, President Buhari, who gave the directive after receiving briefings from the relevant government Ministries, Agencies and Departments, MDAs, involved in resolving the face-off with the university unions, after he summoned a meeting yesterday to hear from the government team on why the strike had lingered for too long.
The President after hearing from the relevant MDAs directly involved, ordered the Minister of Education to ensure that the impasse was resolved within two weeks and report back to him.
Sources at the meeting also said the president directed that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, must be in any of the meetings to resolve the crisis.
The sources further said that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, was asked to be part of the team to interface with the striking unions.
It was learned that the President commended Ngige on his efforts so far to resolve the face-off with the striking university unions,
Those at the meeting were the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Chairman of National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta and the Director-General, Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.
It doesn’t mean govt is serious — ASUU
Reacting to the directive yesterday, Lagos Zonal Chairman of the union, Dr. Adelaja Odukoya, said it should not be taken as an indication iof government’s seriousness on the issue.
Odukoya, who is also a member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of ASUU, said: “It is not a measure of seriousness. It is not the first time the Presidency would give such directive and nothing would be done.
‘’There was a time a committee was set up that comprised the Chief of Staff to the President, the Ministers of Education, Labour and Finance that interacted with us, but what came out of it? Nothing.
“As for us making concessions, we have been doing that. We are all in this country and we all know what is happening. We signed a memorandum with the government in May 2021, we agreed on a number of issues, but they did nothing. Let the government come out with its mindset. As a union, we negotiate, we don’t take awards.’’
Buhari’s directive to minister on strike’s welcome relief – PARENTS
However, the National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, described the president’s directive as a welcome relief.
National President of NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said in his reaction: “The directive is making parents to heave a sigh of relief. It is a welcome development and we hope that nothing is going to stall the amicable resolution of the issues this time around.
‘’Our children have stayed at home longer than necessary and are tired of the whole scenario.
We also hope that ASUU and other unions would agree to make some concessions so that our children would be back on campuses and resume their studies. Life is about give and take and you win some and lose some.’’
We welcome its resolution even in 24hrs — NLC
Also reacting yesterday, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said Congress welcomed whatever was needed to resolve the varsity workers’ crises, saying though the NLC was not yet aware of the ultimatum given to Minister of Education over the issue, the directive was welcomed
He said: “The closure of the nation’s universities has been of serious concern to us in the last five months because it concerns the destiny of our children and the destiny of the nation.
‘’We believe every right thinking Nigerian should be concerned. We need to get the children back to school. A whole academic session has been lost.
“We needed to intervene to create awareness and draw attention to the issue. This is not the first time we are intervening. We have intervened before, which led to the setting up of the Nimi-Briggs committee which reports say the government has rejected.
‘’Though we have not been officially informed about the rejection of the committee’s report, we have described its rejection by government as unacceptable.
“We are not aware of the ultimatum (two weeks ultimatum given to the Minister of Education to resolve the ASUU crisis), this issue can be resolved, even now. So, we welcome the directive.’’
FG has done everything possible to assuage ASUU —SOURCE
Meanwhile, the Presidency has blamed leaders of ASUU for the protracted closure of public universities in the country, lamenting that the Federal Government had done everything possible to please ASUU leadership to no avail.
Top officials of the Ministries of Education and Finance who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said ASUU leadership has refused to shift ground, despite the fact that the Federal Government had agreed to virtually all the issues in the Memorandum of Action, MoA, signed in December 2020.
Officials of the Ministry of Finance, who preferred anonymity, said: “Despite a subsisting agreement signed with the government in December 2020, which the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment was religiously pushing for implementation from all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, ASUU decided to go on strike just 13 months in the midst of the implementation.