By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has accused the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of breaching a ‘gentleman agreement’ reached at their last meeting which held November 27 as regards calling off a nine-month-old strike.
This is as the minister scheduled another meeting for today with leadership of ASUU to iron out grey areas.
Ngige, while reacting to claims by the President of ASUU, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, that federal government had failed to deliver on the timelines on offers made to the union, maintained that the timelines had been complied with and “faithfully implemented”.
The minister, in a statement from his media officer, stressed that ASUU agreed at their last meeting with the government team to call off the strike before December 9.
“The truth of the matter is that a ‘gentleman agreement’ was reached at the last meeting in which ASUU agreed to call off the strike before December 9, 2020, and the Minister, in turn, agreed that once the strike is called off, he would get a presidential waiver for ASUU to be paid the remainder of their salaries on or before December 9,” Ngige stated.
It would be recalled that the union leader had blamed government for the union’s failure to call off the strike, saying the lecturers would not return to classes until their salary arrears were paid.
Reacting to the claims, the labour minister noted that it is false and discomfiting for ASUU to wrongly inform the public that the government agreed to pay all withheld salaries before it would resume work, noting that the timelines attached to the various offers made to the union had been complied with.
He stated, “For instance, the Federal Government promised to constitute a Negotiation Committee for the 2009 Agreement and has fulfilled it with the last week’s inauguration of the committee that has Prof Muzali as chairman.
“The N40b Earned Academic Allowances have also been processed just as the N30b revitalization Fund, bringing it to N70 billion. Likewise, the Visitation Panels for the Universities have been approved by the President but the panel cannot perform its responsibilities until the shut universities are re-opened.
“The gazzeting is also being rounded off at the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation while the Ministry of Education is ready to inaugurate the various visitation panels.”