Lecturers under the auspices of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday shunned a meeting scheduled with the Federal Government to address the concerns raised in an earlier agreement between them for which union has been on strike.
Instead of attending 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.
When speaking to newsmen, ASUU President, Biodun Ogunyemi said that the education body had submitted a proposal to the federal government and is yet to receive a reply from the government, hence, would not attend any meeting with it until the union gets a reply.
It is understood that the ASUU leadership refused to attend the meeting 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.
The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, had called for a meeting in Abuja in an effort to put an end to the lingering strike embarked by the union.
Those expected were the Ministers of Education and Finance, Mallam Adamu Adamu and Mrs. Kemi Adeosun respectively, Chairman, National Income Salaries and Wages Commission, Executive Secretary National Universities Commission and the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba.
Speaking on the development, Ngige 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.”
ASUU, an umbrella body of all university lecturers in the country, is currently on strike over the federal government’s failure to fulfil its 2009/2013 agreement with the union.
The union embarked on the strike on August 13 over issues of poor funding, welfare of its members and the failure of the federal government to honour aspects of past agreements it had with its members.
The leadership of the union met on Friday, August 25, at the National Executive Council meeting, with the aim to determine the direction of the ongoing national strike.
In the meeting, all the branches were told to submit their respective reports to the national body who will take a final decision.
Specifically, the national branches were given three options by the national body to choose from at their deliberations, which are: to continue with the strike action, suspend the action or, ‘positively review the federal government proposal.’