President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday appointed his Vice Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to lead the Federal Government’s team to negotiate with the striking lecturers of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to facilitate the resolution of some of the contentious issues.
The decision to hand over the negotiation team to Osinbajo was reached during the federal executive council meeting presided over by the president.
Speaking with State House correspondents shortly after the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige expressed the government’s regret over the prolonged strike which he said had paralysed academic activities in the nation’s universities.
His words: “The government sympathises with the parents, even with the students who are supposed to be taking their degree exams and promotion exams now but have been forced by circumstances beyond their control to be at home.
“I have my child at home as we speak. So, government is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that we reach a conclusive agreement with ASUU so that they can go back to the classroom. This is the first national strike that this government is facing and we want to discuss.
“At Council today (yesterday), the vice president has taken over some aspects of the negotiation and discussion. So we are continuing the meeting in his office and when we finish, we will get back to ASUU with another round of meeting.
“We are hopeful that with another round of meeting, we will be able to go an appreciable extent to solve some of the outstanding issues.” Also, the minister blamed the private sector for the delay in constituting the committee to review the minimum wage.”
“On the national minimum wage committee, the government side is ready with four ministers – labour and employment, finance, budget and planning. I can’t remember the last one now but we have our team ready.
“We also have the head of service of the federation and the acting secretary to the government of the federation on the government team. The chairman will be unveiled when we have a full component of the committee. The aspect that is delaying from inaugurating the committee is the organised private sector.”
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.