Hope rose again for students of public universities as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday said it had completed negotiation with the Federal Government on the issues that led to its 141-day-old strike.
“The strike can end tomorrow. We are done with the negotiations and now waiting for the government to call us for the signing of the renegotiated agreement,” ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke, announced.
Osodeke was however quick to explain that all the issues that led to the strike remained unresolved since a pact has yet to be signed by the parties to the dispute.
The ASUU boss, who featured on Channels’ Politics Today, listed the non-revitalisation of infrastructure in the universities and the disputed mode of payments to university teachers as some of the issues.
He attributed the lingering strike to what he called a lack of will by the government to do the needful.
Osedeke explained that ASUU embarked on the strike after exhausting all avenues available to amicably resolve the issues with the government.
His words: “If the government had been willing to resolve the issues affecting Nigerians, then there would be no need to go on strike. The problem is the will of the government to resolve issues,
“All the issues that made us go on strike are still there; that is the revitalisation fund that is putting more money into universities and revitalising the infrastructure in the universities. “There is also the issue of our mode of payments in the universities.
There is no university in the world where lecturers are paid salaries from the Accountant General’s Office.
“We have challenged them to provide one, if universities are a universal body, why are they doing things differently? “We talk of negotiation of the agreement, the proliferation of universities, among others, so there are lots of issues that they have not resolved.
“What we are doing is for the benefit of Nigerians. We want a a situation where there will not be a disparity between the children of the rich and the poor in knowledge acquisition in this country.”
ASUU began the strike on February 14 before three other university-based unions— the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied Educational Institutions (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) joined.
Last week, Vice-chancellors appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to takeover negotiations with the unions to save the universities and their students.
Buhari had before then mandated his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim to head a special committee to bring an end to the strike.
The committee comprises the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Productivity. the National Salaries and Wages Income Commission, the National University Commission, National Universities Commission (NUC) and the striking unions.