FG and ASUU disagree as Buhari orders a two-week strike resolution

 The federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) clashed again on Tuesday over how to end the five-month-long strike by lecturers in Nigerian public universities.

While President Muhammadu Buhari directed that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, be present at crisis resolution meetings, the ASUU leadership stated that it would not participate in any process involving the minister.

Apart from ASUU, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Allied Institutions (NASU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), and National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have all gone on strike for various reasons.

ASUU's demands include, among other things, the revitalization of public universities, the payment of earned academic allowances, and the implementation of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) for the payment of university lecturers.

With the ASUU strike still ongoing, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called for a nationwide protest on July 26 and 27 to show solidarity with the striking lecturers.

The Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) also threatened to join the strike action if the federal government did not meet ASUU's demands.

President Buhari directed the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, on Tuesday to end the long-running strike by ASUU and three other university-based unions.

The president issued the directive after receiving briefings from the relevant government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) involved in the ongoing efforts to end the standoff with the university unions, according to Prime9jaOnlineMedia.

Following the briefing on Tuesday, the president directed the education minister to resolve the points of contention within two weeks and report back to him.

In addition to Adamu and Ngige, Buhari had directed that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, be part of the team tasked with liaising with the strikers.

The meeting was attended by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, the Federation's Head of Service, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan, the Chairman of the National Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta, and the Director-General Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.

According to ASUU, including Ngige on the new com.mittee will exacerbate the situation.

Responding to Prime9jaOnlineMedia's inquiry at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, stated that Ngige, as a "acclaimed conciliator," was the major actor fueling the crisis in tertiary institutions across the country.

"When NIREC met with the president about this issue, he directed a three-man committee to resolve it in a timely manner." The committee, as you may recall, was comprised of the Chief of Staff, labor, and education ministers. Where are we now? That was around February. Is it still going on in July?

"Similarly, our prayers and the prayers of many Nigerians are that they can resolve these issues within two weeks if that man named Ngige, the Minister of Labour, is not a part of it." We must be very clear because he is the one who is causing the problems.

"But we'll keep an eye on things because, according to what I've read, the person now in charge of that team is the minister of education." We hope that Adamu will intervene with this minister of labor so that this matter can be resolved. It's a positive step, but we hope they meet the two-week deadline," he said.

Earlier, Osodeke told journalists that the union would not succumb to blackmail, claiming that Ngige had been feeding the general public lies, hence the press conference.

"Specifically, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has implied that there was no agreement between ASUU and the government; that ASUU sat down to fix the salaries of its own members; and that our union asked representatives of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) to recuse themselves from the negotiations."

The Labour Minister remains silent, while the NLC maintains its protest mobilization.

Several attempts to reach the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, went unanswered, as several calls to his mobile phone went unanswered and he did not respond to a text message sent to him.

Similarly, one of his aides, who did not want to be identified, told one of our correspondents that they had not read ASUU's accusations and that the minister's media office would respond at the appropriate time.

Meanwhile, the SSANU warned the Prof. Nimi-Briggs-led Committee renegotiating the 2009 Agreement that it would not accept any disparity in university staff salaries, threatening legal action if such a development occurred.

In a statement issued last night, SSANU President Comrade Mohammed Ibrahim stated that the alleged proposed salary disparity by the Nimi-Briggs Committee would cause new problems in university systems if caution is not exercised.

"We have read in the media that there is a proposal for a salary review for university staff, with a differential of 108 to 180 percent for teaching staff and an unreasonable 10% for non-teaching staff."

"We are astounded to learn that the Nimi Briggs Committee has submitted a report to the government despite the fact that we have only met with them twice." "To put it mildly, SSANU is dissatisfied with the pace of work in that committee," Ibrahim said.

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