Our members will determine our next action –ASUU president

The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Friday said it could not determine when it would call off its strike until its members had met to decide the next course of action.

The Federal Government and ASUU had, after a 14-hour meeting, which ended on Friday morning, said in a communiqué that ASUU would meet with its members and revert to the Federal Government within one week.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who spoke to journalists by 3.30am on Friday, said government had also pledged itself to the contentious issues raised by the union, while the ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, on the other hand, said the union had useful deliberations and would consult its members and revert to the government.

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Ogunyemi added, “Now, we have some concrete proposals to take back to our members as part of our consultations. Like the labour minister said, we plan to come back to the government to take a final decision, as advised by our members.”

When asked when the union would meet its members, the ASUU President, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, said a date had yet to be fixed, but that the leadership of the union would meet with the members within the seven days it agreed with the union.

He added, “We cannot determine when we would call off the strike, until we meet our members, and they would be the ones to determine whether the agreements we had with the government would be enough to call off the strike, but we are yet to fix a date for the meeting.”

Ngige, who alongside the Education minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu, led the government delegation, read the communiqué to journalists.

He said both parties discussed seven issues, including funding of universities, earned academic allowances, staff schools, salary shortfalls and the issue of Treasury Single Account.

He said government would make some funds available in September and October to show good faith and show that the agreement could be relied on.

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He said, “Most of these issues stem from the 2009 agreement and the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding that the government had with ASUU. Most of these issues did not crop up during the Buhari administration, but government is a continuum. We inherited them. Therefore, on funding, this negotiating team has brought a current proposal to which we agree can be worked out.

“However, because of the inability of the government to pay the initial amount of N220bn, we have agreed on a seven-man technical and working committee and ASUU is expected to send three nominees to the committee.

“On the issue of earned allowances, we agreed that payments have started in that direction. On staff schools, we have also agreed with the union demands. The same for salary shortfalls as government has shown commitment as we have started payments. We have also agreed on the TSA, by which the Central Bank will create a special account so that research funds and endowment funds be exempted.

“Based on these conclusions, ASUU will consult with its members and revert to the government within one week. We expect them within one week. The meeting was very cordial.”

The education minister also said, “We have discussed these areas and reached agreements. The union will get back to us within a week.”

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