The Federal Government has said that talks with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have so far been fruitful, expressing optimism that the ongoing strike by the university teachers, will soon be called off.
According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, this is predicated on the FG’s consideration of some of ASUU’s demands, including the submission of the union’s list of outstanding payments, and the identification of some areas in the universities in need of revitalisation as contained in the signed 2009 agreement.
Ngige said: “There are areas that are still outstanding which we are going to address on the 17th. We have the issue of shortfall of salaries, that of some federal university workers. ASUU has given a list to the office of the Accountant General.
“We agreed that by Wednesday that the list will be checked to find out really whether those universities were actually paid and they have to be visited and paid the outstanding lecturers there. So, the Accountant General’s office is to comeback to us.
“We have also the issue of Earned Academic Allowance and the issue of revitalisation. These are issues of 2009 agreement. We will look into the consideration and we have identified one area of the fund for revitalisation.
“The federal government organs will be contacted and we do expect that we will have some words for ASUU. Same goes for the earned allowances. We will make sure that the issue of the outstanding amounts is handled in a way that all parties will be properly accommodated,” he said.
Ngige revealed that during the talks, the quality of graduates from state-owned universities was brought to focus, with a view to upgrading the standard of education in order to meet with global standards.
“We also discussed the issue of state universities and since education is on concurrent list, the universities should be properly funded and staffed, so that we do not produce half baked graduates from those universities. And towards realising that, the ministry of education will engage the Nigeria Governors’ Forum. The minister of education is taking steps towards that direction and will organise that interaction.
“Engaging them directly and giving professional advice is what the ministry will do. These are some of the issues we discussed and to me; the discussions were fruitful. We want the children to go back to school,” he added.