The Federal Government on Friday apologised to Nigerian students and parents over the prolonged strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The leadership of the public University teachers early hours of Friday conditionally suspended the eight month strike it embarked upon on February 14 as a result of the government’s failure to attend to some of their concerns.
The federal government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment expressed gratitude to all Nigerians who participated in various ways in the negotiations leading to the calling off of the strike.
A statement by the Deputy Director Press in the Ministry, Olajide Oshundun, assured Nigerians that with the steps the federal government is taking, Nigerian students will be saved the unpalatable experience of intermittent, prolonged industrial actions in future.
According to the statement, “In a special way, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige expresses gratitude to the Honourable Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the leadership of the House of the House of Representatives.
“We particularly recognize the patriotic efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, the former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, all members of Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria whose wisdom and intervention raised a ray of hope while the strike was at infancy but for ASUU’s intransigence to negotiation.
“We were forced to migrate the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) created by the 1999 Constitution as amended, for the settlement of industrial disputes because every channel of negotiation including the tripartite plus, in which eminent Nigerians participated in failed. We were left with no other option than to trigger Section 17 of the Trade Disputes Act .CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 on dispute resolution mechanism in seeking the intervention of the National Industrial Court .
“Now that ASUU has decided to obey the judgement of the National Industrial Court by calling off the devastating action, we apologize to all students and parents , of which the Honorable Minister is one, for this unduly prolonged strike, which is unwarranted ab initio.
“We wish to assure that with the decision, steps and measures being taken by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in holistic repositioning of higher education, a groundwork is being laid, of which we are confident, will save Nigerians, this unpalatable experience of incessant strike in future.
“It is verily our hope that now that the strike has been called off, the National Industrial Court will deal with the substantive issues as contained in the referral letter by the Honourable Minister. This is to ensure that justice is given to all parties including ASUU and their employers- the Federal Ministry of Education who acts on behalf of the Federal Government.”
The statement further noted that the Ministry of Labour and Employment will continue to cooperate with both parties in finding amicable solution to other issues not placed before the industrial court, in finding lasting solution to the instability in the university system.
“We certainly can’t be less grateful to the judiciary for deepening our labour jurisprudence in upholding the essence of the 3rdalteration of the 1999 Constitution , especially as it relates to Sections 243 and 254A.”