By Kuni Tyessi
In an effort to guard against the incessant strikes by university unions, notably the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the federal government on Wednesday inaugurated a renegotiation team to look into the 2009 agreements with the union.
The team, which comprises eight members, will be chaired by Professor Emeritus and erstwhile Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Munzali Jibril.
Other members, whose roles are purely advisory, include the Executive Secretary, (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, and the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, amongst others.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the team, said it is expected to take another look at the 2009 agreements reached with the university-based unions and work with each union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system.
He reiterated that the committee’s terms of reference include: “Re-negotiate the residual issues in the 2009 agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the university-based unions, towards a workable and implementable agreement between both parties, such that will facilitate a repositioning of Nigerian universities for greater responsibilities in national development.
“Propose and prescribe short, medium and long-term measures for the
sustainable funding and management of federal universities in order to restore lasting peace, stability, harmony and progress in the Nigerian university system.
“Make any other recommendations, as may be necessary, to ensure the realistic implementation of future agreements, by all stakeholders.”
He noted that government is determined to, within available resources, provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian
He said so far, significant progress has been recorded and there is an opportunity that public universities, like their private counterparts, will soon reopen for academic activities.
According to him, “As you are quite aware, the federal government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months, have been neck deep in several meetings with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the
outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities.
“It is noteworthy that although most of residual issues were part of the comprehensive agreement reached with the previous administration, I can report
that significant progress has, so far, been recorded and there is an opportunity
that our public universities, like their private counterparts, will soon reopen for
“Let me re-affirm the commitment of the present administration to finding
lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the university sub-sector.
“Government, like other stakeholders, is also worried about the vicious cycle
over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other.
The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious
man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action. All these have impacted negatively on our learning outcomes and the reputation of the Nigerian brand, which hitherto was the pride of the nation.
“It has also become necessary and urgent that all hands must now be on deck to restore the confidence reposed in university education by students, parents and the general public.”
Other members are the Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
University, Bauchi, Dr. (Mrs.) Nimota Nihinola Akanbi, Professor Emeritus Nimi Briggs; P. Ngbale; Prof. Femi Odekunle,; Pro-Chancellor, Senator Nkechi Nworgu; Prof. Shehu Usman Abdullahi; and Maj. Gen. Mamman Magoro.
The advisers also include Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVC); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of State-owned Universities; Chairman, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Secretary, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Chairman, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU); and Secretary, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU).