Education Minister Adamu Adamu yesterday expressed shock over the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to go on strike.
He said the contentious issues between the Federal Government were being sorted out.
Adamu said this while responding to questions from State House Correspondents after the week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The minister said a committee set up to resolve the disagreement between both sides had submitted its report to the ministry, adding that the report was receiving necessary attention.
He stressed that if after so many negotiations and attempts at resolving the disagreements, the union still could not agree on a truce, the fault was no longer with the government.
“ASUU, unfortunately, has gone on strike and I am looking for them because all the issues are being addressed.
“The last thing that happened was that our committee looked at their demands, but there are renegotiations going on. They submitted a draft agreement which the ministry is looking at,” Adamu said.
The minister said ASUU’s strike happened abruptly amidst ongoing negotiations.
Speaking of ASUU’s draft agreement, the minister said: “A committee is looking at it. Immediately it finishes, the government is meant to announce what it has accepted. Then suddenly, I heard them going on strike.”
On allegations by ASUU about his absence from meetings, he said: “ASUU will never say that. I always call the meetings myself. The meetings I didn’t attend were those that happened when I was in hospital in Germany.
“We want a peaceful resolution. The Federal Government is ready to meet them on all issues they have raised. If there are so many meetings and the gap is not closing, then I think it’s not the fault of the government.
“There is a solution to this. The negotiations are the solution. That is why I have said that I am surprised that ASUU has gone on strike.”
Also, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said the Federal Government has so far paid N100 billion to address the union’s demands.
Giving a breakdown of the money, the minister said the government released N40 billion as Earned Allowances, which was paid in February/March 2021; N30 billion paid in October 2021 for Revitalisation, while N22.72 billion mainstreamed into the 2021 Budget was paid in November 2021.
“So, in all, a total of N92.72 billion was paid as per the December 2020 Agreement, besides the withheld salaries running into hundreds of billions for period not at work. That is, ‘no work, no pay’ as contained in Section 43 of trade Dispute Act,” Ngige said.
Also, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) yesterday urged the Federal Government to implement all agreements with ASUU.
It urged the government to sign the re-negotiated 2009 FG-ASUU agreement.
The umbrella labour union advised relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that the government team should be resolved was discharged immediately to end the stalemate.
A statement by NLC President Ayuba Wabba said: “On the ongoing warning strike by the ASUU, we wish to state that the current industrial impasse is very unfortunate. The issues in contention include the 2009 Re-negotiated Agreement. The Federal Government took the draft agreement and promised to consult and return to conclude the signing. “The Federal Government is yet to conclude the signing of the agreement. Also, the government is yet to honour the terms reached at the May 2021 Agreement signed with ASUU.
“In order to protect the future of our youths whose academic life is being disrupted, we urge the Federal Government to implement all the agreements it entered with ASUU. Specifically, we call on the government to sign the re-negotiated agreement with ASUU.”
Academic activities have been paralysed at the University of Ibadan (UI), Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) and University of Ilorin (UI) campuses.
Lecturers in the universities obeyed the one-month strike declared by ASUU on Monday.
The universities, which are in the Ibadan Zone of the union, held their congresses presided over by their chairpersons with a resolve to ensure that lecturers would not teach or attend any statutory meeting while the strike lasts.
The congresses, which were presided over the Professors Ayo Akiwole (UI), Olaniran Abiodun (LAUTECH) and Moyosore Ajao (UNILORIN), ended with the activation of strike monitoring committees to ensure that all members obey the directive of the union.