- As rival group meet Ngige today
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
High-powered Federal Government negotiating team will be meeting with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Friday in a bid to secure an agreement to call off the nine months old indefinite strike by university lecturers.
A notice of the meeting signed by the Deputy Director/ Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr. Charles Akpan and made available to THISDAY Thursday said that the Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige will be meeting with members of ASUU on Friday.
The statement said the meeting was scheduled for the Minister’s Conference Room by 11am.
Although, the agenda of the meeting was not indicated, there was a statement that went viral on Wednesday, stating that ASUU has suspended its indefinite strike.
However, credible sources from both ASUU and federal government have described the strike suspension statement as fake.
THISDAY investigations gathered that tomorrow’s meeting was convened by the federal government to try to end the indefinite strike that has seen the nation’s federal universities locked up for many months now.
The planned meeting with ASUU comes just as a splinter group knowns as Concerned University Academic Staff (CONUAS) has scheduled a courtesy visit to the Minister today to continue their lobby for registration as a trade union.
A source from the government negotiating team told THISDAY that “ASUU is expected to relay the outcome of it’s consultations to its hierarchy over the position of federal government on their outstanding demands”.
According to the source, federal government side had conveyed to ASUU during their last meeting areas which it cannot meet in their demands.
For instance, he said that federal government told ASUU that it cannot grant their demand for N110 billion as revitalization fund. Government also said that it cannot go beyond the offer of N40 billion as Earned Allowances to university workers.
Federal Government offered to provide N30 billion as Earned Allowances in the interim and to pay the remaining N10 billion February next year. It also said that it can only provide N20 billion to fund infrastructure development in the universities.
Meanwhile, some renegade members of the ASUU under the auspices of CONUAS have resumed their lobby to be recognized by the government as alternative union to ASUU.
THISDAY gathered that the new group which enjoys support of the government has already submitted application for registration and is merely waiting for official nod to commence operations.
A source in ASUU alleged the rival group may be used by the federal government as buffer to encourage rebellion against mainstream ASUU with a view to forcing it to call off the strike.