By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Federal Government has blamed the ongoing civil unrest by youths across the country on the industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in the country.
Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said this in a reconciliation meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU on Thursday in Abuja.
According to Ngige, “for the past week, we have all been on our toes, we have been meeting and we pray that this meeting will yield good fruits.
“We don’t take pleasure to the fact that the children who are supposed to be in school are being recruited into the EndSARS, #EndStrike, #EndSWAT campaign.
“As much as possible, we will try to see how we can meet ourselves halfway so that we can resolve this crisis to the benefits of all and the country at large,” he said.
The minister said that the Federal Government has commenced the process of testing the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) platform, created by ASUU.
He said that ASUU members have claimed that the platform will accommodate the peculiarities of the university systems and that the platform will involve three stages of test to be concluded within the time frame the union gave the government.
“We have the preliminary report and the test run on the UTAS, and we believe that with that, we will be able to get it right.
“Let me make it clear to members of the press, we never said UTAS will replace Integrated Personnel Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as some of you are reporting.
“No! The UTAS developed by them is for the University systems and they feel that it captures the peculiarities that are configured to accommodate all the University systems, especially as it affects the Professors and other teaching staff and even the Non-Academic Staff.
“We, as government, feel we are going to put it up for tests – three stages of the test. We have done the first stage of test which is within the timeline of six months that ASUU promised.
“We are going to do other integrity tests, Alpha test, Beta test and the one they call roll-over and other whatever test. It is the technologists that know all those tests. But this is the round we are going on now,” he said.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President, commended the Senate President and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Accountant General of the Federation, among others, for making discussion possible between the concerned parties.
According to him, “we are here with an open mind and at the same time, we need to put it on record that our members out there expect much from this meeting.
“Our members are ready and willing to go back to class because it is a matter of national interest. Just like every other person’s child is at home, our children are also at home,” he said.
Ogunyemi also added that it was a matter of interest that “we are doing, and we are conscious of our place in history. If academic does not defend the academia, who defends the academics”.
He, therefore, appealed to all to look at the issues affecting the university system as a national emergency in the country. (NAN)