Ngige: We won’t give in to plotters of protests
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said that it will address a press conference on the outcome of its negotiations with the federal government today (Wednesday).
THISDAY gathered that the union plans to use the opportunity to formally make a statement suspending its nine-month-old industrial action, as well as give details of the agreement reached with the federal government over their demands.
The decision to suspend the strike action came after the federal government made good its offer to pay the lecturers two months salary arrears with an undertaking to progressively offset the outstanding salaries by end of January 2021.
At the meeting between both sides held yesterday at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in Abuja, the federal government team presented a report of the implementation of their agreement on payment of salary arrears, Earned Allowances and revitalisation fund.
A statement signed by the ASUU president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi and made available to newsmen last night reads: “Dear compatriot, you are kindly invited to a press conference by ASUU. Date: Wednesday, December 23, 2020.”
It said that ASUU would address a press conference at its national secretariat, in the University of Abuja today.
Earlier at opening of the talks, the Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige, who coordinated the negotiations said that government would not play into the hands of those planning #EndASUU protest.
He said federal government would do everything possible to ensure that the prolonged strike of ASUU is brought to an end.
Ngige said that those who are wishing for an #EndASUU protest, would be disappointed.
He spoke against the backdrop of the ultimatum purportedly issued by Nigerian students to embark on a protest if the ASUU strike was not resolved by January 15.
Ngige said though he had not received such a letter from the students, even if there was one, the government would disappoint all those wishing for the protest as all the matters in dispute must have been resolved by January 15.
“Those who want to use the #EndASUU protest to destroy public and private property or lecturers homes, will be disappointed.
“I am optimistic that the meeting will produce the final result that will make everybody happy.
“This meeting is fruitful, just like the past ones. This is a journey and the facts are that we have achieved a lot, on both sides, the government and ASUU.”
“This journey has been tortuous, but I see light at the end of the tunnel,” Ngige said.
Expressing optimism, the minister informed ASUU that he communicated with the government side before the meeting and got assurance from them that most of the grey areas have been dealt with.
“We are hopeful that ASUU will then take the report of what we achieved today to their members. We allow social dialogue in line with ILO conventions for all employers and employee, to guide this meeting.”
Also making remarks, the President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said they feel for their students who are also their children and no amount of sacrifice would be too much to get the matter resolved as long as the government was consistent with its commitments.
Ogunyemi said they came for the meeting with all sense of responsibility to resolve the crisis in the interest of the students and their members who have been starving.
He, however, reiterated that only the NEC of ASUU could announce the suspension of the strike at the end of yesterday’s negotiations.