From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, New York, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, Lukman Olabiyi
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed optimism that the industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities ( ASUU), which has lasted for over seven would be resolved soon.
He disclosed this, when he briefed journalists, on the outcome of a meeting between the House leadership, Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah and representatives of ASUU.
The speaker, who stated that the meeting, which lasted for about five hours was fruitful, said the leadership of the House would meet with the Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General of the Federation and the Salaries and Wages Commission, tomorrow, as part of measures to resolve all contentious issues.
“We have been here for hours now deliberating on issues regarding the ongoing ASUU strike. We have covered a good ground. Let me just put it that way and we have made very good progress. Like I said earlier, ours is to interface directly with ASUU as an independent arm of government to find out exactly the details and how solutions can be offered like they said two heads are better than.
“Now that the legislative has come in, we are very hopeful based on our deliberations in the last five hours that there is light at the end of the tunnel. So, I thank them once again for making this time out in interest of our students.
“There are principally seven areas where ASUU has presented what we consider to be the requisitions for them to go back to class. We have looked at those areas and we have more or less agreed on certain things in pursuant it finalise what the meeting of our minds… we have asked that NITDA, Accountant-general and auditor general and the Wages and Salaries Commission would be invited.
“Unfortunately, its too late to invite them tomorrow because the letters can only go out tomorrow. They will be invited to meet with the leadership on Thursday so that we can dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ’Ts.’ Once that is done, the leadership of this House will await the return of Mr. President from the ongoing general assembly and we will meet Mr. President and lay before him the agreement made by this arm of government.
“We are hopeful and believe that Mr. President will buy into the agreement and with that, I believe this matter will be speedily brought to a close. In the meantime, between now and when Mr. President comes, ASUU itself will go back to its members with the resolutions we have come to today to get their buy-in. And I don’t believe there is an issue or a problem from what we discussed. I hope and pray there will not be a problem. Once that is done, I believe we will be good to go. And we will bring this sorry situation to an end.
“I did want to go into the details. They are not necessary at this time. What is most important is that at the end of the day, hopefully, we conclude on what we agreed on today”.
The ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke thanked the Speaker and the House for their intervention. “I think it is a good development and we are waiting for what they will send to us that can make our members wait. I believe that in the near future, this issue will be resolved.”
Before the meeting went into an executive seesion, ASUU had accused the Federal Government of more interested in punishing university lecturers, rather than addressing issues that led to the industrial action.
It alleged that some cabinet members of President Muhammadu Buhari had been feeding him lies on the more than seven months industrial action to press home demands for improved remuneration and working condition for members in public universities.
Osodeke said the Ministry of Education was yet to hold any formal meeting with ASUU since members of the union embarked on strike.
He said immediately the industrial action commenced, Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, directed that their salaries be stopped while the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, vowed that lecturers would be taught a lesson.
The ASUU president, who at a point, was infuriated by repeated attempts by the Minister of State for Education, Opiah, to prevent him from speaking before camera, said it would be better if the entire discussion was covered by the media so that Nigerians could judge for themselves where the problem laid.
Buhari’s ministers feeding Nigerians lies
Meanwhile, Chairman, University of Ibadan chapter of the union, Prof Ayoola Akinwole, yesterday, in Ibadan, alleged that some cabinet members of President Muhammadu Buhari have been feeding him lies .
He said the union wrote letters to the House of Representatives and Senate in September and October 2021 and also sought the intervention of religious leaders to avert the industrial action, but got no fruitful intervention before it proceeded on the strike.
“They all abandoned us. We gave religious bodies the opportunity, it yielded nothing. Most of the government people are feeding Nigerians with lies. ”
Reach truce with ASUU, Methodist Prelate tells FG
Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Samuel Kanu-Uche has implored the Federal Government to reach a truce with the ASUU in order to avert youths unrest.
The cleric said there was no ambiguity in the demands of the National Association of Nigerians Students (NANS) urging the government to listen to their outcry and settled with ASUU as they students want to return to classes.
He made the plea, yesterday, while announcing the church’s 180th anniversary of its existence and 60 years of autonomy in Lagos.
He said the current crisis witnessed in the educational sector was as a result of Nigeria’s leaders poor management and funding of the education sector.
“We are urging Federal Government to have proper dialogue with ASUU. It has been there since ASUU was there. In international community, it is suggested that 20 per cent should go to education. Nigeria has never done this. I see it as maladministration,” he said.
Dialogue’ll end impasse – Sanusi
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, also urged the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the lingering crisis through dialogue given the attendant toll on students.
Sanusi stated this this New York on the sidelines of a three-day transforming education summit tagged ‘Transforming Education through Grassroots Innovation: A Localised Teacher-Led Approach’ on the ongoning United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
“Government needs to recognise that teachers are human beings; we are in a country with high level of inflation and salary don’t take teacher anywhere and teaching is a profession that needs to be valued from lowest to highest. Our education employees are staff of health establishment too, what we don’t know is that we have lost so many academics, many people who go abroad to do PhD don’t come back. Many medical doctors working in Nigeria have gone abroad.”