A truce meeting between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government was cancelled on Monday, it was the second time in a row.
No reason was given for the cancellation of the parley scheduled to discuss the union’s current strike.
It was gathered that ASUU was still consulting with its organs on the latest offer by the Federal Government to the striking university teachers.
The Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, announced the postponement in a text message.
“Good morning, colleagues. Please, note that the meeting with ASUU, earlier scheduled for today (yesterday), is canceled. The inauguration of the technical committee on PMS is as scheduled,” the message read.
When contacted, ASUU President Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the union’s leadership did not agree on any meeting with the government as consultations on both sides were still ongoing.
“We never actually agreed on any meeting. What we said was due consultations, and consultations are going on at the two levels. We believe the government’s side is also consulting. That’s why the meeting has not held.
“So, consultations are going on. Thank you,” Ogunyemi said at a media briefing.
ASUU has been on strike since March this year to drive home its demands.
In a statement last Tuesday in Abuja, Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige said the government had raised its offer to the striking lecturers to N70 billion.
He said the government was willing to pay N40 billion for Earned Allowances, which would be shared among three university-based unions and N30 billion for revitalisation.
Ngige added that the funds were ready to be disbursed, pending when the union would agree to call of the over eight-month strike.
The Federal Government also accepted ASUU’s demand that they be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) pending the approval of their proposed payment system, the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
It also reconstituted a committee to renegotiate the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and universities-based unions, as demanded by ASUU.
The committee is headed by Prof. Munzali Jibril, the Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University Lafia in Nasarawa State and Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities.
The government has also set up visitation panels which will be inaugurated when varsities reopen.
Also, Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Dr. Christian Opata, has said the union’s rejection of the IPPIS has nothing to do with its current strike.
Opata spoke on Monday while addressing reporters on the protracted nationwide action.
He said the media briefing was to correct the “misinformation” in a national daily, where it was alleged that the union embarked on its action because of IPPIS.
According to him, ASUU went on strike because the Federal Government failed to honour the 2009 agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it entered with the union.
“ASUU didn’t go on strike because of a misunderstanding with government on IPPIS as platform for payment of salary.
“IPPIS issue started in 2018, before then, ASUU has been calling on government to honour the 2009 agreement and various MoUs it entered with government.
“In the 2009 agreement and MoUs, government agreed, among other things, to release money to revitalise the decaying infrastructure in public universities and set up visitation panels to know the condition of the universities,” Opata said.
The union leader said it was mischievous for anybody to accuse ASUU of insensitivity over the plight of students and parents when government reneged on its 2009 agreement and MoUs.
He said the current strike could have been averted, “if government honoured and implemented its 2009 agreement and MoUs with ASUU”.
According to him, the union takes strong exception to the feature story in a national daily.
“The writer is not fair to ASUU, which has been fighting to ensure the revitalisation of public universities to ensure that students compete with their counterparts, globally,” he said.