The Academic Staff Union of Universities, on Sunday, said it did not receive any notice of meeting from the Ministry of Labour and Employment over its ongoing strike.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had during a meeting with the striking National Association of Academic Technologists on Friday, promised to meet with ASUU this week.
This week was also the last week of the ASUU’s two months rollover strike.
But the National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the union had yet to receive any notice of a meeting from any Federal Government ministry.
“No, we have not received any notice of meeting from them. They didn’t call us. We are not begging them to meet with us and we will not go to them if they do not invite us. It is part of his (Ngige’s) political campaign, we didn’t receive any invite,” he said.
When asked what would be ASUU’s decision at the end of its two-month rollover strike which ends on Friday, Osodeke said, “My people will decide.”
He added, “No meeting, if we do not hear from them, our National Executive Council will meet at the expiration of this week.”
But the spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, faulted Osodeke’s claim on the notice of the meeting.
Though Goong did not give The PUNCH a specific date for the meeting, he noted that the government had continually reached out to the union.
He said, “The negotiating team is meeting ASUU this week. I cannot say when but I am very sure they will be meeting. The team has reached out to ASUU.
“It is not true that we have not been communicating with them. ASUU is making series of demand including increase in salary, if we have not been communicating, who then are they making their demands to?”
Meanwhile, the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities has reiterated the need for the Federal Government and the striking ASUU to resolve lingering issues in order to end the ongoing strike.
Chairman of the committee, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, made the call an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.
Edoumiekumo said it was crucial for both parties to come to an agreement to end the strike as soon as possible.
He urged them to honour agreements entered into for academic activities to commence in the affected universities.
“We have already given a press release arising from the meeting of the general assembly of the committee.
“We said that ASUU and the Federal Government should amicably resolve all lingering issues,” he said.
Edoumiekumo, who is the Vice Chancellor of Niger Delta University, expressed optimism that the issues would be resolved soon.
Also, the Trade Union Congress in Kogi State has lambasted the Federal Government over the lingering strike.
The state chairman of TUC, Ranti Ojo, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said the body language of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the ongoing strike showed that his regime had no plan for the future of Nigerian youths.
Ojo, while expressing worries over the continuous crisis rocking the nation’s educational sector, said students are always at the receiving end when unions down tools to press home their demands.
Ojo said, “We have many students that are supposed to be participating in the National Youth Service Corps but are roaming around the street because of the strike. Our children are now turning themselves into something else. Immorality, robbery, insecurity and many more are now the order of the day.
“The government is feeling less concerned because most of their children are not schooling in the country. With what is on ground, the present administration has no plan for our education and the future of our youth.
“The political class has failed us because their children are not in the country, as they are all abroad. Something urgent must be done to avoid any crisis in Nigeria. The educational sector must be given priority.
“Look at the money they budgeted for our parliamentarians. Can you imagine a political appointee bought nomination form for N100m? Where did he get the money to do that? This is the Minister for State for Education. For me, the political class has failed us, not only in the educational sector, but in all ramifications.”
ASUU had on February 14 embarked on strike to press home some demands including call for government to implement Memorandum of Action signed in December 2020 on funding for revitalisation of public universities.
Other demands are Earned Academic Allowances, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement and the deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution among others.
Meanwhile, members of the National Executive Council of ASUU commenced its meeting last night in Abuja.
A source in ASUU said, “The meeting is still ongoing. No decision yet. The President (Osodeke) will make pronouncement after our meeting tomorrow (Monday) morning.” PUNCH