For the first time since the twelve days the strike embarked upon by University lecturers under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) commenced, the government held a meeting with them which ended Thursday evening.
EduCeleb.com recalls that ASUU called the strike over its demands for improved funding of universities and welfare of lecturers. It particularly decried the non-implementation of the agreement it reached back in 2013 to fund the University system with 1.3 trillion naira.
The funds, dubbed the University Revitalisation Funds were supposed to disbursed to take care of universities infrastructure. The government under Goodluck Jonathan had agreed to pay N200 billion in 2013 and pay N220 billion each for five subsequent years.
Only N200 billion was released back then. It took another strike in 2017 before government announced the release of another N20 billion to the funds, leaving a deficit of about 1.1 trillion to pay till date.
Following Thursday’s meeting that began 3p.m and ended 8:15 p.m, it appears that the strike will continue.
Leading the government’s side of the meeting was the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who disclosed that government’s discussion with ASUU will continue next week following a stalemate.
Mr Ngige earlier said the meeting with the university teachers was coming late due to the minimum wage negotiation with organised labour.
He appealed to ASUU to put the interests of student as who are at the receiving end into consideration.
ASUU president, Biodun Ogunyemi said the union has tendered its request and also said the meeting has been adjourned till next week.
According to him, no date has been fixed but “we will communicate the date to you tomorrow,” he told waiting journalists.
He said the union was forced to call the strike after its plea for the implementation of the 2009 agreement fell on deaf ears.
“Our meeting with the education minister in May and September to remind him about federal government promises to implement the agreement yielded no result,” he said.
Professor Ogunyemi earlier said the government had promised to take action on issues raised in the last MOU signed by the two parties but “it does appears that federal government is dribbling the union.”