Strike: FG, ASUU Negotiation To Continue Next Week, Says Ngige

Strike: FG, ASUU Negotiation To Continue Next Week, Says Ngige

The Federal Government of Nigeria has assured concerned citizens that it will resume its negotiations with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) next week.

This, according to Nigerian Government, is in a bid to end the prolonged closure of Nigerian public universities.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, gave this assurance in his opening remark at a meeting between the government and the striking National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT).

According to Ngige, the multiple industrial disputes in the education sector could have been averted if the unions in the sector had taken advantage of what he described as his “open-door policy.”

He said it was his open door policy that “culminated in the peace currently enjoyed in the health sector.”

Ngige however said, “If you are from any union, you don’t need to book an appointment to see me. The doctors started using that advantage, and JOHESU also did the same.

“That is why the Health Sector is quiet. But the education unions don’t take advantage of my open-door policy.

“We don’t have to cry over spilled milk. Let us look at your issues to see the ones we can handle immediately, the ones we can do in the medium term, and the ones we can do in the long term.

“There are certain ones that are over and above me that are not in my hands to do.

“My job is to prepare an agreement after conciliation on what you have agreed with your employers, the Federal Ministry of Education, put timelines and monitor them, to see whether the results will be there,” he explained.

On how he intends to resolve the crisis, the Labour Minister said, “I want to take all of you holistically and I ask for your cooperation. When I finish with you today, I will continue with ASUU next week.

“I have met NASU and SSANU yesterday (Thursday) and they were happy. I want you people to be happy as we leave here,” he added.

Ngige also alleged that the cause of the morning misunderstanding is “economic, bordering on money and welfare, including old arrears and the 2009 renegotiation of conditions of service.”

He said, “I believe that if we talk frankly to ourselves, knowing fully well that the economy is not good and that you should have money that can take you home.

“With an open mind, we will arrive at something. Once we arrive at something, it will be done,” he said.

He, however explained that the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement would not be immediate because the Education Ministry had put in place a committee to handle it.

In his speech, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Andrew Adejo, said all the issues in dispute were economic, in the sense that everybody wants improved conditions of service.

According to Adejo, while the government agreed that workers should enjoy better conditions of service, consistent industrial actions were worsening the situation.

“In 2000 when this agreement was signed, N400,000 was equivalent to 3000 dollars. Today, that N400,000 is less than 400 dollars.

“Because of this consistent trend, we are reducing productivity in the economy,” he said.

NAAT President, Ibeji Nwokoma, said his union would not have gone on strike if the Education Ministry had, in his words “helped matters in the issue.”

According to him, the union “embarked on strike as a last resort to draw government attention to their plight.”

Ngige, after listening to all, called for speedy resolution of the disputes to enable students return to school.