Strike: FG inaugurates renegotiation team with ASUU, others on 2009 agreements

•Says varsities will soon reopen

THE Federal Government on Wednesday inaugurated the reconstituted government team for the renegotiation of the 2009 agreements between the Federal Government of and Academic Staff Union of Universities as well as other University-based unions, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Federal Government Team, which is categorised into substantive members, advisers and observers, is led by Professor Emeritus Munzali M. Jibril.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the renegotiation team, expressed the commitment of the government in ensuring that the about 9-month strike by ASUU is called off for academic activities to resume in public universities in the country.

Renegotiation of 2009 agreement has been one of the contending issues in the protracted strike by ASUU, but the Minister apologized for the delay in the reconstitution of the renegotiation team.

He said: “As you are quite aware, the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months, have been neck-deep in several meetings with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities.

“It is noteworthy that although most of the residual issues were part of the comprehensive agreement reached with the previous administration, I can report that significant progress has, so far, been recorded and there is an opportunity that our public universities, like their private counterparts, will soon reopen for academic activities.

“Let me re-affirm the commitment of the present administration to finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the university sub-sector.

“Government is determined to, within available resources, provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as
improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian universities.

“Government, like other stakeholders, is also worried about the vicious cycle over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other.

“The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action.

“All these have impacted negatively on our learning outcomes and the reputation of the Nigerian brand, which hitherto was the pride of the nation,” Adamu said.

He said Federal Government team is expected to take another look at the 2009 Agreements reached with the university-based Unions and work with each Union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system.

The Miniter stressed that it has become necessary and urgent for all hands to now be on deck to restore the confidence reposed in university education by students, parents and the general public.

He listed others in the member category as Amb Nimota Nihinola Akanbi Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Professor Emeritus Nimi Briggs, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo.

Others are Arch. Lawrence P. Ngbale, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Wukari; Professor Femi Odekunle, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna; Senator (Dr.) Nkechi Nworgu, Pro-Chancellor, University of Calabar; Professor Shehu Usman Abdullahi; Pro-Chancellor, Kaduna State University; Maj. Gen. Mamman Magoro, Pro-Chancellor, Kebbi State University, Birnin Kebbi

Among the advisers are Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC); Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVC); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of State-owned Universities; Chairman, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Secretary, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Chairman, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU), and Secretary, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU).

Adamu charged them that they have been carefully selected in recognition of their records in university management and academic leadership, saying the team which is also well tested, comprises technocrats and some of the shining lights and Nigeria’s leading figures in higher education.

The terms of reference of the team include re-negotiate the residual issues in the 2009 Agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the university-based unions, towards a workable and implementable agreement between both parties, such that will facilitate repositioning of Nigerian universities for greater responsibilities in national development.

The team is also to propose and prescribe short, medium and long-term measures for the sustainable funding and management of Federal universities, in order to restore lasting peace, stability, harmony and progress in the Nigerian
university System.

They are also to make any other recommendations, as may be necessary, to ensure the realistic implementation of future agreements, by all stakeholders.

Let me congratulate you on your appointment, which is a clarion call to service.

Chairman of the renegotiation team, Emeritus Prof. Jibril, thanked the Federal Government for the confidence reposed on them while assuring early submission of a report that would guide government action in creating industrial harmony and conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning universities in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, President of Academic Staff Union of Universities, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, who was at the Ministry of education to witness the inauguration said would not prejudge the committee until they meet.

on the comments by the Minister that the Universities will soon be reopened, Ogunyemi said: “What do you expect him to say; those universities should not reopen?

“The ball is in their court. When the government meet our demands, we will reopen. We didn’t close the universities, the government closed the universities and our members-only withdrew their services when the government decided to starve them,” he said.

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