Varsity strike: ASUU boycotts meeting with FG, submits counter offer

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige

The leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Tuesday boycotted the meeting called by the Federal Government on the lingering crisis in the university and the on-going strike declared by ASUU two weeks ago.

Rather than attend the meeting with the Federal Government, ASUU forwarded a letter containing “a counter offer”, in response to the earlier offer made to ASUU by the government.

Nigerian Tribune learnt that the ASUU leadership refused to attend the meeting slated for the Ministry of Labour and Employment, because there was nothing concrete to offer by the government and since they had submitted their counter offer to be considered by the Federal Government.

“ASUU was not at the meeting because they felt there is no need progressing for a meeting now since there is nothing concrete to offer by the government. Besides, they have just transmitted their own offer to the government for their consideration and they felt it is better to leave them to consider that offer, before any meeting with them,” a source told Nigerian Tribune.

Meanwhile, the government side at the meeting, led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, will present ASUU counter offer to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday for approval.

Ngige acknowledged the absence of ASUU leadership at the meeting and the fact that ASUU had submitted its own counter offer to the government.

The Minister of Labour and Employment said: “Today we are supposed to have a formal meeting with the stakeholders in the government side and ASUU; but we have some new developments which made it mandatory that we roll over this meeting to the next day.

“The government as you know on the 16th of August gave ASUU an offer through the Ministry of Education, and yesterday ASUU got back to us and said they needed us to deliberate on their counter offer before we can have a formal meeting.

“We acceded to that because we think we need to do a government side meeting on their counter offer before we can have a reconciliatory, to further discuss if there are areas of disagreement or stamp an authority to what their demands will be. So, that is the position.”

On what the government is doing on the issue, Ngige said: “As we speak now, we have a government side meeting inside my office. The Minister of Education is on another point for a meeting and we are going to collide into a full government side meeting by 3pm today to formalise our position and look at ASUU’s request.

“So, that is why we have not been out here, but we decided to come and address you on what the current situation is. After this address we will go back to government side meeting and continue.

“Tomorrow is Federal Executive Council and we will also need council approval for some of the things we are doing. Thereafter, we would then meet with ASUU may be tomorrow evening or Thursday morning; whichever is convenient to both parties.”

Meanwhile, giving an update on the nationwide strike on Tuesday, the President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union had submitted their offer to the Federal Government on Monday, after due consultation of their members on the government offer.

Ogunyemi said: “Following due consultation, we have collated the view of our members on the offer from government in dispute in the letter of 16th August, 2017. These views were submitted to Federal Government vide our letter dated 28th August, 2017.

“As we await the Federal Government’s action on our letter, we hope that it would not be long before we receive a positive response which will bring an end to the dispute.”

The General Secretary of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson, who came for the meeting told Nigerian Tribune that the Federal Government was paying the price of negligence over the years, adding that, that is the price to pay when government refused to act promptly and failed to act on the agreement it jointly signed willingly with others.

He said: “It is better to prevent strike from happening, when it starts, it becomes very difficult to manage.

“We hope that the Federal Government will have positive response to what ASUU has presented.”

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