The meeting between the Federal Government team and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Tuesday night ended in a deadlock as no concrete agreement was reached.
What this means is that the ongoing six-month old strike by the public university lecturers will continue and the universities doors will remain shut and students kept away from classrooms.
It was gathered that the representatives of ASUU who met with the Professor Nimi Briggs-led committee at the headquarters of the National Universities Commission (NUC), left disappointed from the meeting that started at 12.00pm and ended by 3.00pm.
A top official of ASUU who craved anonymity told newsmen that government at the meeting did not make any new offer, but rather begged members of the union to suspend the strike with promises that their concerns will be taken care of in the 2023 budget.
Although there has not been any official statement from either the government or ASUU, the rumoured outcome of the meeting has left many Nigerians disappointed after their hopes were raised by ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, who said that government has agreed to the implementation of UTAS for payment of their salaries, with a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Professor Osodeke in an exclusive interview with Punch on Tuesday night said that the meeting was not good as the union did not sign anything because the Federal Government team did not come with anything good.
While referring to the meeting, the ASUU President said, “It wasn’t good. We didn’t sign anything; they did not come with anything good. I can’t go into details. We will talk to our members first before we talk to the press. We represent our members.”
ASUU had on February 14, 2022, embarked on a 4-week total and comprehensive strike to press home their unresolved demands on the federal government.
Some of the lecturers’ demands include funding for the revitalisation of public universities, which amounts to N1.1 trillion, payment of earned academic allowances, and adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a preferred payment option, instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and payment of promotion arrears.
Others are the renegotiation of the 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement and the resolution of inconsistencies in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
On March 14, the union extended the industrial action by another 2 months to allow the government to meet all of its demands.
ASUU on May 9, further extended its ongoing strike by another 12 weeks to give the government enough time to satisfactorily resolve all the outstanding issues after an extension on March 14 due to an alleged lack of seriousness on the part of the federal government.
The Federal Government’s Briggs renegotiation committee, had since April 2022, been meeting with ASUU and other labour unions in the universities, who are all currently on strike due to its dispute with the government and non-resolution of demands of the 2009 agreements signed with the federal government.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on July 19 directed the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to proffer a solution to the challenge and report back to him in 2 weeks. The president’s ultimatum had since elapsed without any resolution yet.
However, ASUU remained adamant in its resolve to press on with its demand as it once again on August 1 extended its ongoing strike by another 4 weeks to give the Federal Government more time to resolve outstanding issues in its dispute with it.
ASUU President had during an interview on Channels Television on Monday hinted that the Federal Government had accepted to implement its University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as the platform to be used for the payment of salaries of university lecturers.