Universities to Reopen Soon, Says FG

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By Kuni Tyessi

The federal government yesterday said public universities in the country would soon reopen for academic activities like their private counterparts.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said this at the inauguration of the federal government team to re-negotiate the 2009 agreement between the government and universities – based unions yesterday in Abuja.

The committee is headed by Prof Munzali Jibril, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Lafia, Nasarawa State and Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities.

The minister said significant progress has been recorded in its negotiations 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.

He said the present administration was committed to finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the university sub-sector.

According to the minister, the federal government is determined, within available resources, to provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian universities.

“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 academic activities.

“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 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 universities.”

The minister stated that government, like other stakeholders, was worried about the “vicious cycle over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other.”

Adamu added: “The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfill 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.

“The federal government team 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. 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.”

On his part, Jibril assured the minister that the team would deliver on the assignment.

He said: “I will like to assure you that with this revamped, reinvigorated team, we shall swing into action immediately and within the shortest possible time we shall deliver on the assignment.

“The period of our assignment will be very brief because we have done a substantial amount of work and all that needs to be done is to conclude the negotiation and submit a
report.

“I want to appeal to the unions to also show good faith so that we can work together because we are all working for the same objective of having a world class university system. If they cooperate, we shall, together produce a blueprint that will stand the test of time.”