By Yakubu Lawal
The federal government says that talks with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have so far been fruitful, expressing optimism that the ongoing strike will soon be called off.
The government’s optimism, according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, is predicated on the federal government’s consideration of some of ASUU’s demands.
the demands include the submission of the union’s list of outstanding payments, and the identification of some areas in the universities in need of revitalisation as contained in the signed 2009 agreement.
The minister said talks with the union have so far been productive and fruitful, adding that the federal government was optimistic that the strike would soon be called off to pave way for students to resume academic activities.
He said: “There are areas that are still outstanding which we are going to address on the 17th. We have the issue of
“We agreed that by Wednesday that the list will be checked to find out really whether those universities were actually paid and they have to be visited and paid the outstanding lecturers there. So, the Accountant General’s office is to come back to us.
We have also the issue of Earned Academic Allowance and the issue of revitalisation. These are issues of 2009 agreement. We will look into the consideration and we have identified one area of the fund for revitalisation.
“The federal government organs will be contacted and we do expect that we will have some words for ASUU. Same goes for the earned allowances. We will make sure that the issue of the outstanding amounts is handled in a way that all parties will be properly accommodated,” he said.
Ngige revealed that during the talks, the quality of graduates from state-owned universities was brought to focus with a view to upgrading the standard of education in order to meet with global standards.
He said state owned universities are not producing graduates that can be employed as several are lacking in competitive skills. He said the federal government through the ministry of education will engage with the Nigeria Governors Forum and will chart a way forward.
“We also discussed the issue of state universities and since education is on concurrent list, the universities should be properly funded and staffed, so that we do not produce half baked graduates from those universities. And towards realising that, the ministry of education will engage the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. The minister of education is taking steps towards that direction and will organise that interaction.
“Engaging them directly and giving professional advice is what the ministry will do. These are some of the issues we discussed and to me; the discussions were fruitful. We want the children to go back to school,” he added