…Parties agree on four critical issues
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday, brokered a truce between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as the parties agreed on four major issues.
The foremost academic body said at a meeting the Speaker convened at the National Assembly, Abuja, that it welcomed the Speaker’s intervention.
Following the threat of a strike by ASUU over the failure of the Federal Government to implement parts of the agreement entered into by the two parties, Gbajabiamila called for a meeting between the Ministers of Finance and Education and the leadership of ASUU.
At the meeting attended by all parties, it was agreed that four issues would be resolved as soon as possible.
The government representatives at the meeting agreed to make available, within one week, the sum of N30bn Universities Revitalization Fund for onward payment to ASUU members.
It was also agreed that the Federal Government would sort out the N22bn Earned Academic Allowances component from the education sector budget.
In addition, the Federal Government said that it was not averse to the deployment of the proposed alternative payment platform University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) developed by ASUU as opposed to the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
The Minister of Finance, Zainab AHMED, however, informed the Speaker that the government is waiting for the report of the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) before the next step would be taken.
The tripartite meeting also agreed that the renegotiation of the 2009 N1.3 trillion agreement between the ASUU and the Federal Government would commence in a week’s time. Speaking at the meeting, Gbajabiamila said: “It will be irresponsible of us, as leaders to sit and watch things deteriorate.
“We have to be mindful of the unintended consequences of strike actions that can be far-reaching, knowing how important education is to the children and the future of our country.
“Whatever the issues, strikes can not continue to be a perennial exercise, strikes can not be the tool we use at all time but only when things finally break down. “On the other hand, the government should also not go into agreements it can not honour.
“While everybody has an equal share of the blame, how to resolve the issue this the most thing important and that is why we are here”.
Earlier, ASUU President, Prof. Victor Emmanuel Osodeke, said some of the issues in contention have been resolved but for the listed.
He said the union had to call for strike action due to the tradition of reneging on agreements by the Federal government, the last of which was last month, October.
On the other hand, the Ministers of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said the government was on the verge of releasing funds for the Revitalization of Universities as well as the EAA.
Having convinced the university trade union to have faith in the promises made by the two Ministers, Gbajabiamila added, “It will be the best for ASUU to please step down the impending strike since there’s no issue that has been left unresolved.
The Speaker hoped that resorting to strike actions over issues will be a thing of the past while appealing that statements that will exacerbate matters would be avoided by all parties”.