The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has explained the reason the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other university-based unions were not invited to the last Thursday’s meeting of the federal government’s negotiating team held in Abuja.
A statement signed by the Head, Press and Public Relations, Olajide Oshundun, said the meeting was meant for the inter-ministerial departments and agencies committees of the federal government.
The statement explained that the attention of the Ministry of Labour and Employment was drawn to an interview by the President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, where he had said his union did not receive any invitation from the federal government to attend the said meeting.
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It noted that prior to Osodeke’s interview, all kinds of write-ups allegedly authored by members of ASUU had been trending on the social media, accusing the Ngige of being the headache of the university lecturers.
“We wish to use this opportunity to set the record straight for the benefit of members of the public who may have been misled.
“We will start by making some clarifications on the government side meeting held last Thursday, June 23, 2022, geared towards accelerating the resolution of the multiple strike actions of ASUU and other university-based unions, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).
“The meeting was meant for the inter-ministerial departments and agencies committees of the federal government, including the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Budget Office of the Federation, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),” he said.
Ngige said the committees were reporting to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
According to him, the meeting in question was called to assess the progress made so far on addressing the few outstanding demands of the striking university workers, such as the contentious payment platform and the renegotiation of their conditions of service.
Ngige added that the two committees were empaneled by him and the Chief of Staff to the President at the last tripartite plus meetings of the unions and the government side.
“For the avoidance of doubt, none of the unions was invited to last Thursday’s meeting and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Dr Chris Ngige, while briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting last Wednesday, June 22, 2022, clarified that the meeting would hold the next day (Thursday, June 23,2022), for the government side alone.
“As expected, the meeting held and all the stakeholders reported on the various assignments given to them and accordingly, received further briefing and directives from the President in order to accelerate discussions with ASUU.
“It is hoped that before Wednesday this week, all the various sub-committees will turn in their reports, to enable Mr. President to be briefed fully and for decisions to be taken on the contentious payment platform and the renegotiation of the conditions of service, especially the issue of wage increase,” he said.
Ngige said the plan was that after receiving briefings from the government side, the Ministry of Labour would bring all the stakeholders, including the unions, to a conference table to look at the agreement before signing or endorsement.
“Consequently, all insinuations that the Ministry of Labour does not sympathise with the students, unions and parents, of which the Minister is one, should be disabused,” he said.