Paul Obi in Abuja
In a move to pacify the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) following the declaration of a one-week warning strike, the federal government yesterday said it was considering the implementing of the agreements reached with the union in 2009.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Folashade Esan, told THISDAY in a telephone chat that plans were underway to critically look into ASUU’s demands.
The university lecturers had made good their threat to embark on a warning strike on Wednesday if the federal government failed to implement the agreements signed with their union seven years ago.
With public universities paralysed for three days now, Esan informed THISDAY that the meeting with the Senate had made the government to consider how the implementation of the agreements could begin.
She said: “We had a meeting with the Senate on the matter, and we are now working on it.”
Chief among the demands and grievances of ASUU against government include, payment of fraction of staff entitlement and the denial of staff entitlement in respect of earned academic allowance amounting to about N128 billion, funding of universities for revitalisation and the refusal to register the Nigerian Universities Pension Management Company by the Pension Commission.
ASUU is also opposed to “the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), affecting university autonomy, decrease in budgetary allocation to education and the refusal by government to renegotiate the 2009 agreement which was due for renegotiation since 2012”.
Meanwhile, ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that the one-week warning strike was merely a warm up and would continue until discussion with the government and the Senate was exhausted and the agreements implemented.
Ogunyemi said: “All we agree is how to address the problem. The Senate has set up a committee to interact with all the parties in the matter, and we are meeting on Monday again.”
The ASUU president said in spite of the Senate intervention, the strike would continue. “It is a warning strike; the essence of a warning strike is that while the strike lasts, we address the matter. If they address the matter, we will work with them” Ogunyemi stated.
He explained that since the strike is “a warm up” exercise, it is important that the parties “are now talking”.