FG, ASUU to end negotiations in three days

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Leke Baiyewu, Abuja

The Minister of Education, Mr. Adamu Adamu, assured the Senate on Thursday that the issues that led to the face-off between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities would be resolved in three days.

It was gathered that the minister gave the assurance at the meeting the FG had with ASUU at the instance of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

Similarly, it was learnt that ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, while thanking Saraki and the Senate committee for their intervention, also assured the Senate that the outstanding issues would be resolved within three days.

The Senate had given the FG and ASUU a two-week period within which both parties must resolve the outstanding issues between them.

Saraki, who had been mandated by the Senate to mediate between the two parties to prevent a prolonged strike by the university lecturers, was part of the Thursday meeting held at the National Assembly Complex.

It was learnt that there were three outstanding issues, which bothered on the “earned allowances” for ASUU members.

The Federal Government had on Wednesday said that while it had met seven out of the eight demands by ASUU, it could not meet the union’s demand for earned allowance worth N284bn due to the current economic recession.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the government could not pay the allowance.

He added that the government had conceded to the union the right to exclude endowment funds that accrued to universities from the Treasury Single Account.

He said while the government agreed to ASUU’s demand to exclude endowment funds from the TSA, it did not mean that universities’ councils would not have the right to audit such accounts.

At the last meeting called by the Senate, the Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, which is spearheading the negotiation, had suggested that the government should give universities N1.5bn monthly, a proposal ASUU rejected on the basis that the amount was too meager.

Another issue the meeting failed to resolve was the payment of the salaries and allowances of the staff of universities’ primary schools.

Another issue in contention is the payment of 15 per cent of the education budget of each year to university education committees.

The second meeting between the Senate and ASUU had ended in a stalemate on Monday.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Senator Jibrin Barau, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said the meeting, which lasted for about eight hours, was able to resolve all the issues raised by the lecturers except one bothering on payment of arrears.

The Senate had last Wednesday failed to stop ASUU from continuing with its one-week warning strike.

Barau, who addressed journalists after the first meeting, said the lawmakers had a “fruitful deliberation” with the striking lecturers, adding, “A way forward has been found and the issues will soon be resolved.”

He, however, admitted that the warning strike would continue while the Senate worked towards preventing the lecturers from embarking on a total strike.