ASUU strike: No end in sight, Osinbajo heads govt negotiating team

There seems to be no end in sight to the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities as the Federal Government says it is still studying the fresh demands made by the union.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this on Wednesday while responding to an enquiry by one of our correspondents.

The correspondent had, in an SMS, asked if a date had been fixed for a meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU.

Ngige, who responded through an SMS, said, “No. Government side is still studying their new demands with the Vice-President (Prof. Yemi Osinbajo) as mandated by FEC (the Federal Executive Council).”

Although both the Federal Government and ASUU failed to disclose the fresh demands by the university teachers, there were reports on Wednesday that the union asked the Federal Government to pay the shortfall in salaries in the universities.

The reports also indicated that the union wanted universities to manage their internally generated revenue and grant a waiver to Universities Pension Management Company.

At the August 17 meeting with ASUU, the Federal Government rejected the demand of ASUU that universities should be exempted from the Treasury Single Account.

ASUU, on August 13, began a nationwide strike over the failure of the government to implement an agreement it reached with the union in 2009.

The union also alleged that the Federal Government did not implement the Memorandum of Understanding the two sides signed in 2013.

I’ve not been invited to any meeting –ASUU president

When contacted on Wednesday, ASUU said the Federal Government had responded to its August 28, 2017 letter.

The union had, in the letter, listed the minimum demands that must be met before it would call off the ongoing strike.

The ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, stated that the government had responded to the fresh letter, adding that the union would deliberate on the response before accepting or rejecting the offer.

“Yes, they (government) have responded to our letter and we are discussing with them. We will discuss their offer with our members and then get back to them,” he said on the telephone, but declined to provide further details.

When asked if the union had a meeting with government officials on Wednesday, Ogunyemi said, “No, I have not been invited to any meeting, we have only received a response to our letter.”

ASUU had, on Tuesday, boycotted a scheduled meeting with a Federal Government delegation in Abuja.

Asked if the government had paid the N23bn, a source stated, “No, I didn’t think they have paid anything. They have an offer to what they said they would pay and ASUU gave what it said was a counter position.”

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had said on August 18, 2017 that the Federal Government had offered to release N23bn to ASUU.

The government had insisted that the sum of N30bn released to the universities should be subjected to forensic investigation.

Investigation by one of our correspondents revealed that there were no signs that the meeting scheduled to hold between the union and the government on Wednesday or Thursday would take place.