FORMER President Goodluck Jonathan has narrated how he sat with key members of his cabinet and other top Federal Government officials to resolve a four-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in one day, after an all-night meeting.
Jonathan spoke at an event organised to mark the 70th birthday of the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Hassan Kukah, in Abuja on Wednesday.
He recalled that he thought the negotiation with the ASUU leaders at the meeting would not take many hours, but the talks spanned the whole night till 5:30 am the following morning.
Jonathan said, “The society we are managing is quite complex. Yes, I was the President, and I tried my best. Now, we are talking about the ASUU strike. During my time too, ASUU had four months of strike.
“Different committees were meeting, but nothing was working. I said, ‘How can our children stay out of school for four good months?
“So, I had to call a meeting of all the leadership of ASUU. I presided over the meeting with my vice president. The Attorney General was there. I said that night we must solve the problem. The Attorney General was there; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation was there; the ministers of education were there; the labour ministers were there; the finance ministers and everybody that had to do with the strike.
“And I thought that my being there would help us to do things quickly. But we spent the whole night. We finished like 5:30 am, and the strike was called off. So, there were issues.”
The ICIR reports that ASUU embarked on strike on February 14 over unmet demands by the Federal Government.
The strike clocks 200 days today, and all efforts by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to end the logjam have failed.
This newspaper reports that some of the issues that forced ASUU into strike during Jonathan’s time are among the current reasons the association has downed tools, a strong indication that Jonathan’s government failed to implement the agreement it reached with the union.
The ICIR also reports that ASUU was on strike for at least 13 months (in 2010, 2011 and 2013) during Jonathan’s government over unmet demands by his government.
ASUU is currently demanding the implementation of an agreement the Federal Government signed with it in 2009, among other demands, namely:
- Deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
- Payment of outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
- Release of an agreed sum of money for revitalising public universities (federal and state).
- Addressing proliferation and governance issues in state universities.
- Settling promotion arrears.
- Releasing withheld salaries of academics.
- Payment of outstanding third-party deductions.
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