- Nigige: We’ve met demand half-way
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Another meeting between the federal government and the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ended yesterday in Abuja without an agreement on the major issue at stake.
ASUU had demanded the release of N50 billion as first trench of the revitalisation fund meant to address decaying infrastructure in the nation’s public tertiary institutions.
The meeting yesterday was the ninth edition of the FG-ASUU talks that had ended in deadlock, even as the public-funded universities have remained shut down nationwide.
Addressing journalists shortly after the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige said some progress had been made.
According to him, it is left for the ASUU to consult with its members and get back on Thursday when the parties would reconvene.
Ngige said: “It has been protracted but the good news is that we have gotten to the end of the tunnel.”
On whether federal government had agreed to release the N50 billion demanded by ASUU, Ngige said government had offered ASUU something very reasonable “and they have agreed to take it back to their people and to reconvene next Thursday.”
“We have met it half way. We have offered what we have, we don’t have N50 billion. The Minister of Finance has also said that the federal government cannot afford N50 billion now,” he added.
On his part, the National President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi said that the meeting had made some progress and that they were going back to consult with their members.
He also said that another meeting had been scheduled for next week, Thursday where the two parties hope to further deliberate on the way forward.
“The meeting has been adjourned till Thursday, we will be here again to continue talks,” he said.
When asked to give details of the new offer made to ASUU by the government, Ogunyemi said he could not disclose it until it got to his members first.
“We presented the feedback from members on the previous discussions with the FG and we have another set of information to our members and until we give them, we are not going to speak about it,” he said.
The ASUU president said that the union would definitely have something to tell Nigerians after the next meeting on Thursday.
At the resumed talks yesterday, ASUU leadership restated the union’s demand for a N50 billion revitalisation fund as the benchmark for resolution of the current industrial dispute.