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FG, ASUU in talks to suspend strike

THE Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is expected to resume talks with the Federal Government at a closed-door meeting Monday over the ongoing strike action in public universities, the Union has said.

After last week’s meeting by ASUU and the federal government in which no conclusive decisions were reached, the two parties will meet on Monday (today) at the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja.

In a phone interview with the ICIR, Abiodun Ogunyemi the president of the union reiterated ASUU’s position which he explained has remained constant.

“Our position has remained unchanged. We are calling on the federal government to honour the agreement they signed with us in 2017. There is no shifting of grounds today.  When they fulfil their own part of the bargain then we will go back to work,” he said.

“It’s high time we hold the government accountable for their actions and also be conscious of doing our duty for the growth of the country. I think this step we are taking is in the right direction for the benefit of our universities. It’s not uncommon to hear people say we are tired of this ASUU strike actions, but we see it as our community service, we are the barometer of the society to bring the corrupt in public offices to respect their agreements,” he said.

The Union embarked on strike three weeks ago over issues and demands by the lecturers which include better funding of Nigerian universities, non – implementation of previous agreements, non-payment of earned academic allowances, salary shortfalls and pension matters

Abiodun stated that the Federal Government’s insincerity in honouring agreements with lecturers is responsible for the backward state of Nigerian public universities.

” When public office holders fail to respect a gentleman’s agreement with lecturers about their welfare, will you expect them to give their best in class? Nigerian universities cannot globally compete with their peers when it comes to infrastructure and the quality of education received in our institutions but our politicians are able to send their wards to schools abroad neglecting the state of education in the home front. So how do you expect our universities to be able to compete globally?” he queried.

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), on November 19 embarked on a solidarity protest to demand increased funding for education.

A total of N605 billion was allocated to the education sector this year which is higher in naira terms than the N550 billion allocated in 2017, but it represents only 7 per cent of the total budget.

This allocation falls short of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) framework to which Nigeria is a signatory. GPE has prescribed education budget benchmark of 15 to 20 per cent of the  national spending. The government’s failure to increase spending on education and other welfare issues have led to an industrial action by the Union,  that has forced Nigerian universities to shut down since November 5.

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