Negotiations between the Federal Government and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities (ASUU) over the on-going strike by members of the union ended in a deadlock in Abuja yesterday.
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Speaking to journalists after the meeting which lasted several hours, the Governor of Benue State Gabriel Suswam who is Chairman of the Needs Assessment Implementation Committee set up by the Federal Government stated that President Goodluck Jonathan had pledged to commence release of N100 billion for the infrastructural development of the universities from the beginning of September.
He further stated that due process for the release of the funds to execute the identified projects in all federal universities across the country had already started.
Said he: ” Among the infrastructures that would be provided are chairs, classrooms, laboratories , libraries and student hostels. There would also be renovation of existing infrastructures and execution of fresh projects.”
He further stated that ASUU leaders were members of the the Needs Assessment Committee adding that they had agreed with resolutions on how to address the infrastructural decay in federal universities.
On his part, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Senator Anyim Pius Anyim stated that the Federal Government delegation and ASUU had almost agreed on all disputed issues adding that the only outstanding one was that of earned allowances of academic staff of federal universities.
He further stated that even though ASUU had demanded for the release of N87 billion to settle the outstanding allowances, the Federal Government had agreed to disburse the sum of N30 billion to all the universities.
Said he: “However, we cannot determine what is owed individual lecturers in different universities. Hence we have agreed that councils of various universities should determine how much teachers in the various institutions are owed”.
However, the President of ASUU Dr. Nasir Fagge in his own remarks said that the union still insisted that the Federal Government should implement the 2009 agreement reached between both parties.
Said he: “If you remember our objective for going on strike was to get government to implement the 2009 ASUU/ Federal Government agreement, particularly the memorandum of understanding we reached.
I want to say that at today’s (yesterday’s) meeting, we looked at all the issues in that MOU and it is clear to us that the the Governor Suswam committee that is working on the funding requirement for rehabilitating the university system based on the implementation of the needs assessment report; it is clear to us that that we have not really gone far in that aspect. Secondly, remember in our earlier discussion, we said there are other aspects of the agreement that were refereed to either the Implementation monitoring committee or the federal ministry of education. We are yet to commence work on those aspects.”
He continued: “On the earned academic allowances, since the government made it clear that it doesn’t have the money to implement that aspect, we were made to understand today that government is going to consult the universities’ governing councils and then if there is any need for further meeting, we would be consulted.
So, on the basis of that, we will also go back and inform our members on this development. I think at this point, what the union is talking about is the implementation of 2009 agreement not the renegotiation of the agreement.”