The FG emphasised that it would not give in to ASUU’s demands to be paid the backlog of salaries withheld throughout the period.
Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, made the announcement to media at the 47th State House Ministerial Media Briefing conducted by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja.
ASUU began a one-month warning strike on February 14. The union, however, has prolonged the walkout multiple times in the last six months.
Other organisations, including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Institutions, the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions, and the National Association of Academic Technologists, followed suit, suspending operations in universities across the country.
However, in response to inquiries from State House Correspondents on Thursday, Adamu stated that five of the striking university-based unions will return to work within the next week, while ASUU’s fate remains unknown.
He denied getting a two-week deadline from President Buhari, claiming that he completed his assignment one week after meeting with the President on July 18.
“The President never set me a timeframe,” the minister explained. I promised to complete it in the lowest amount of time possible. And, for your information, one week after that vow, I had already accomplished my job because I had given the government’s offer to all six unions, and I can tell you that, in general, they all accepted it. The only exception was ASUU, which proposed two more criteria that I informed them would not be acceptable to the government.
“Let me use this opportunity to congratulate ASUP” (Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics). The ASUP union was on strike. But they were threatening to go back at the moment I was assigned this (negotiating) task. So I called ASUP and demanded that they drop the threat, to which they complied.
“The next group I saw was the College of Education Academic Staff Union, who are now on strike.” I made them an offer, and this is the last one. And they agreed to it. But, knowing the acceptance mechanism, they will not simply tell me, “OK, the strike is over.” They must go to their unions and inform them. That is exactly what is occurring with NASU. NASU and SSANU were introduced to me. They have accepted, but they need time to notify the unions. NAAT was the last group I met.
“So, I can tell you that these five unions will call off the strike within the following week.” But I can’t say the same for ASUU because their request is that they accept this deal if the federal government agrees to pay their salary for the month they didn’t work. And I assured them that the federal government would not. All contentious issues between the government and ASUU had been resolved except for the demand that members’ strike pay is paid, a demand that Buhari has bluntly rejected.”
Adamu also stated that ASUU, not the Federal Government, should be held responsible for compensating university students for lost time.
If students are determined to be rewarded, he believes they should go to court and sue ASUU and other striking unions for damages sustained during the strike.
“Who do you think will pay the students? What about the federal government? No. You should probably sue the leaders of strike unions to make them pay. Yes. “We’ll see how they pay after the court awards damages,” he said.
He regretted that ASUU went on strike despite the Buhari administration and institutions including as TETFUND and UBEC directly investing N2.5 trillion in education.
However, Adamu stated that ASUU members are currently negotiating when to call off the strike.
“Unions in the country’s tertiary institutions, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities, have engaged in recurring and needless strikes that have crippled the university system.”
“This is despite TETFUND alone investing over N2.5tn in tertiary institutions over the last ten years.” We have formed a committee to revise the 2009 agreement with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other tertiary unions.
“We are doing everything humanly necessary to bring the negotiations to a close.” “I am confident that the current efforts will produce the necessary results and restore our children to school,” he stated.
The Minister also stated that, despite the fact that the ASUU-proposed University Transparency Accountability Solution and University Peculiar Personnel and Payroll System outperformed the government-backed Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System in efficiency tests, the FG has not approved UTAS, as some have claimed.
As a result, he stated that the FG will incorporate ASUU’s idiosyncrasies into whatever platforms that were subsequently adopted. This includes modifying IPPIS to incorporate sabbatical pay for lecturers.