Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has appealed to the striking members of Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) to call off the industrial action for the sake of students.
Lawan made the call during a meeting in Abuja between the leadership of the ASUU and some Principal Officers of the Senate on Monday, October 12.
The Senate President said both the government and ASUU have to find a common ground for universities to reopen and offer the kind of services expected of the universities in the country.
“We don’t need this kind of situation where our universities are shut because our children are main victims of this.
“We cannot afford as a country to continue to have this kind of crisis.
“This may explain why those that can afford will normally go out of the country even to West African countries like Ghana to receive University education.
“I believe our universities can be better but they are better than most of these universities that our children go to in other African countries especially.
The idea is to find out how we can resolve the outstanding issues and it is supposed to be a give and take situation.
“Government cannot have all its way and I believe ASUU should not expect to get everything it has asked for.
“It is a very stressful economic situation and I believe that the government is supposed to even within this type of situation play its own part.
“ASUU, I know, is prepared to meet the government halfway somehow because I am sure we have joint determination to resolve these issues.
“The National Assembly is the best place to go because while on one hand we are a government, on another hand we represent the people, we represent you.
“We represent the families and the children who are now at home because the universities are shut.
” I think as parliamentarians we have to tell the truth as it is no matter how bitter it may be at the right place and at the right time.
When we sign agreements we must do so with full intention of implementing them.
“Also, when we negotiate, we must do so in such a way that the final product will be implementable.
“This is to say that we have to accommodate each other while the government does its own part, ASUU being the body of our lecturers, should protect its members but everybody else in the country must ensure that our universities remain open and functioning.
Because it does not do anybody any good when the universities are shut.
“I am sure that we need to review some of the items on the agreements, I don’t know who will hurt when I say that but the reality is that some many things have happened.
” We cannot have an agreement signed in 2009 and still think this is the only way we can deal with it.
We should be able to have a look at the agreements signed and see at this time whether or not some of the issues are really practicable at all.
“We have to be realistic. I always hold this belief that the government should not sign agreements when it knows that it cannot implement them.
” Under whatever situation, let the government be practical and ASUU, being a very patriotic body, will understand with the government when there is sincerity and honesty in negotiating such agreements, ” he said.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities on Monday, presented its own alternative payroll system tagged, ‘University Transparency and Accountability Solution’, to the Senate.
The President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, addressed journalists after about a three-hour closed-door session with the leadership of the Senate.
Ogunyemi said the visit was a follow up to the earlier one held between ASUU and the Senate in October 2019 to find a way out of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System crisis.
The university teachers and the Senate leadership had at the October meeting agreed that ASUU would design an alternative to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System
The ASUU leaders had on the occasion urged the Senate leadership to give them an opportunity to design a payroll system that would accommodate the peculiarity of the university system.
Ogunyemi told journalists after the Monday meeting that the UTAS it had developed, was a home- grown method that would end its ongoing eight-month industrial action if embraced by the Federal Government.
He said the meeting with the Senate leadership would continue at a later date.
He said “I can only say, for now, we had a positive meeting which was cordial and we are going to continue from there.
“What we have started is to open the issues, we will still meet again to continue from where we stopped.
“We have developed what we call University Transparency and Accountability Solution. We have presented it to the Senate today and the Senate President commended it.
“We are going to present the platform to other stakeholders. UTAS is homegrown while IPPIS is foreign, we are talking about local content.
“We have shown that we are inventors, we are creators of software and we are also capable of doing what our colleagues are doing in other parts of the world.
“Nigerian scholars are not inferior why should we be patronising foreigners for what we can do in Nigeria?”
Ogunyemi said ASUU had never shifted from its position to oppose the IPPIS which would not benefit his members.