ASUU: Labour  Minister Speak on Strike

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said the Federal Government has settled most of the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Ngige stated this, Thursday on Channels Television’s Politics Today. He said he was optimistic the union will call off its strike so that students can return to the classroom.

Recall that ASUU is currently on a one-month warning strike, they are seeking improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.

However, the minister noted that some of these demands have been met. He said, “A lot of them have been dealt with after our meeting in October last year.” 

“That’s why I said I was shocked they went on strike.

 “The only place where they have a point to hold onto and do their strike is on the issue of renegotiation of 2009 – conditions of service because their conditions of service was supposed to be reviewed.”

The Minister noted that the interim report which the academics produced on conditions of service was rejected by the National Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission (NSIWC).

“Because the things they have in there, in terms of allowances, were contrary to existing extant financial regulations,” he said.

Note that the union had insisted on the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, which amounts to about N1.1 trillion, but the minister has insisted that such amount is not available, he cited that during the Muhammadu Buhari administration, oil prices has been low.

Channels reported that the agreement was reportedly struck in 2009.

“In 2016/2017 government said it doesn’t have the money, but we will find a way by which we can fund the universities. So, a committee was set up with ASUU as members.” Ngige said.

He added that the committee “couldn’t come up with anything that could generate funds.

“The committee even recommended that stamp duty should be taken. There was a proposal to get money from phone charges. The government made it clear that we don’t have the 1.1 trillion that is remaining,” the minister said.

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