By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
The long strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) since February 14, 2022 may be called off soon if the closed-door meeting called by the Federal Government in Abuja on Tuesday produces an acceptable outcome.
This hint was dropped on Monday night by ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke while appearing on Channels Television political programme Politics Today monitored in Abuja.
According to Professor Osodeke, ASUU is favourably disposed to end the strike action if the government should come down from its high horses and put heads together with the Union, a truce may be reached at the meeting.
Said he: “We are hoping that the Federal Government considers the Principle of Collective Bargaining. ASUU is desirous to end the strike action as quickly as possible. We hope that the Tuesday’s meeting called by the government can achieve that desire”.
Professor Osodeke however hinted that ASUU is expecting a renegotiation of the funding of entire university structure in Nigeria, adding that it is unfortunate that the negotiations between the Federal Government and ASUU have not achieved the desired results.
He regretted that government has been cold about the 2009 Professor Nimi Briggs-led Renegotiation Committee which is expected to review the draft proposed FGN/ASUU Agreement.
The agreement has the following Terms of Reference, liaise and consult with relevant stakeholders to finalise the position of the Federal Government to the issues in the draft proposed FGN/ASUU Renegotiated Agreement.
He also alleged that meetings with
relevant government agencies like Salaries and Wages Commission, Budget Office and Federal Ministry of Finance have not yielded any fruitful result.
On the vexed issues of the Finance to meet ASUU demands, Professor Osodeke said: “FG has no will to fund universities in Nigeria. That is for sure. Government is insincere on the issue of funding educationin in the country. Nobody should tell us that FG has money, it has but has no will to do the needful”.
Speaking further he said ” FG spends billions of naira to fund the so-called
Trader Money, Feeding School children, etc, which gulps billions of naira but has no money to fund the universities”.
On the two weeks deadline which Minister of Education, Malami Adamu Adamu set for himself to resolve the impasse between FG and ASUU, he revealed that the meeting between ASUU and the Education Minister was informal not official.
Professor Osodeke also accused the Federal Government of tapping the idea of ASUU on how to raise money to fund universities in Nigeria but abandoned the Union afterwards, pointing out that the recently introduced charges on telecoms was the brainchild of ASUU.
On the suggestion to privatise the government universities, he said it is not a good thing to do, stressing that “When the education system starts working, other sectors in Nigeria will start working.”