Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions in tertiary institutions who are currently on strike to embrace dialogue as a means of resolving the lingering dispute between them and the federal government.
The Vice President also called on the leaderships of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), to help facilitate a resolution of the dispute with the University workers through dialogue.
Osinbajo made the appeal during the 2022 International Workers Day celebration on Sunday in Abuja with the theme, “Labour, Politics and the Quest for Good Governance and Development in Nigeria’’.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that ASUU and other unions in the Education sector had embarked on a nationwide warning strike to press home their members’ demands.
The lecturers’ demands included funding of the Revitalisation of Public Universities, Earned Academic Allowances, and University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) and promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FG Agreement and the inconsistency in Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), among others.
Osinbajo said that the federal government was not unmindful of the ongoing strike in public universities and also the anxieties of students and their parents and the thoughts of uncertain future.
“We are not unmindful of the anxieties of our children and their parents who are plagued by thoughts of an uncertain future as they stay home because their universities have been shut by an industrial action.
“I appeal to ASUU and the broader labour community to seek the path of dialogue,’’ he said.
The vice president, however, noted that disagreement and debate have always been part of the relationship between labour and the government.
He added that, even as we disagree today, we must not do so as mortal adversaries but as members of the same progressive family.
According to him, we both want the same thing – a country that works for all and offers each citizen a fair deal – even if occasionally we differ on how to achieve this goal.
“But at all times, we have through dialogue found a path forward. It in this spirit that I call on ASUU to embrace dialogue with the Government.
“I call on the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress to help facilitate a resolution of this dispute through dialogue,’’ he said.
Osinbajo added, “I believe that we can find a path forward in good faith. And this is what we will do.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, also urged organised Labour to continue to eliminate actions inimical to the quest for good governance and development in the country.
Ngige appealed to labour to embrace acclaimed institutions of consensus building in times of differing opinions, rather than debilitating actions that lead to complications.
He said such complications include loss of mandays and decreased productivity that threaten the existence of the enterprise and result in job losses.
He, however, frowned at the situation where strikes are always the first option considered by the unions in pressing home their demands.
The minister noted that the rights emanating from employment relationship are reciprocal, adding that government in addition to being the “competent authority‘’ in tripartism, is also an employer,’’ he said.