Earlier, it was announced that the Federal Government and the Federal executives of ASUU were to hold a meeting today on their Industrial action which has brought academic activities of Students in Federal varsities to a halt.
University students across the country will know the fate of their education today as the Federal government delegation and ASUU have met for the last time in the year 2020 to find how to end the lingering strike.
This meeting makes it the ninth time that both parties have been meeting behind closed doors to agree on steps to take to end the strike.
At previous meetings, the Federal government had agreed to pay members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) an earned allowance of 40 billion and 30 billion revitalization fee which would be used in equipping the Universities and make the academic environment conducive for students to learn.
Despite this agreement, one major issue which has been a bone of contention for both parties is the payment of withheld salaries.
Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, had earlier said that if the Lecturers do not resume to their classes, the government would not pay them the withheld salaries.
But the Lecturers on the other hand have come out to say that they do not trust government, and that they would not resume until they are paid.
Intermittently, both parties have given conflicting submissions on what they have agreed, although not all.
Upon the completion of their last meeting, both parties refused to speak with the press on the outcome in a bid not to discourage students.
Today’s meeting was scheduled to hold by 4pm at the Minister of Labour’s conference room. However, prior to the time of the meeting, Chris Ngige said that he is very optimistic about the meeting, and that Varsities across the country will call of their strike by January 2021.
He said: “Tuesday, we will meet in the afternoon and we will compare notes. We will put everything on the table and compare. I believe that we might have come to the end of the strike when we meet tomorrow. Well, it is a journey of a thousand miles which you will have to take one step first. Tomorrow, all things being equal, we will agree now to agree because we were disagreeing before.
“We disagree to agree and agree to disagree formerly. But tomorrow, I hope we will agree to agree. Once we do that, schools will reopen in January.”
It was also gathered that the Federal government has begun to pay Lecturers their withheld salaries. At least, some of the Lecturers have gotten one or two months salaries from the eight months salaries the government owes them.
ASUU procedure to end strike
Before ASUU would call off its strike, there are procedures that must first be followed.
The National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the group of union officials who have been negotiating with the government delegation every time do not have the constitutional powers to call off or suspend strike.
What they do is that after every negotiation, and after the government puts out any offer, they have to go back to members in all the branches through their various organs for them to discuss and come to an agreement, after which they will revert back to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, a member whose identity wasn’t disclosed, told BBC Pidgin that if the government meets all their needs, it is probable that the union will hold their NEC meeting between Tuesday and Wednesday to call of their strike.
Even if ASUU and the FG resolve their issues, and the strike is called off, one major issue which would delay the reopening of universities is the resurgence of covid-19.
Ergo, School authorities will have to put in place plenty measures to ensure that the school environments are safe for students to come in and learn.
As the year draws its curtain, apparently, university students cannot return to school again this year, but there is much hope that schools will resume early next year.
How did the ASUU Strike start?
On the 9th day of March 2020, ASUU began a 2week warning strike to protest no-pay of salary to lecturers who are not registered under the federal government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
They argued that the IPPIS would not work for Lecturers because it does not put into consideration, the special way in which universities operate.
The FG introduced the IPPIS programme to monitor transparency in the academic sector. The 2week warning strike however was what metamorphosed into the ongoing strike.
SOURCE: BBC Pidgin