Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said there is hope for the resolution of the industrial dispute between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities ( ASUU).
Gatekeepers News reports that Gbajabiamila said this, when he briefed journalists, on the outcome of the 5-hour meeting between the House leadership, Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah and Representatives of ASUU.
The speaker also said that the leadership of the House would meet with the Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General of the Federation and the Salaries and Wages Commission, tomorrow, as part of measures to resolve all contentious issues.
“We have been here for hours now deliberating on issues regarding the ongoing ASUU strike. We have covered a good ground. Let me just put it that way and we have made very good progress. Like I said earlier, ours is to interface directly with ASUU as an independent arm of government to find out exactly the details and how solutions can be offered like they said two heads are better than.”
“Now that the legislative has come in, we are very hopeful based on our deliberations in the last five hours that there is light at the end of the tunnel. So, I thank them once again for making this time out in interest of our students.”
“There are principally seven areas where ASUU has presented what we consider to be the requisitions for them to go back to class. We have looked at those areas and we have more or less agreed on certain things in pursuant to finalise what the meeting of our minds… we have asked that NITDA, Accountant-general and auditor general and the Wages and Salaries Commission would be invited.”
“Unfortunately, its too late to invite them tomorrow because the letters can only go out tomorrow. They will be invited to meet with the leadership on Thursday so that we can dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ’Ts.’ Once that is done, the leadership of this House will await the return of Mr. President from the ongoing general assembly and we will meet Mr. President and lay before him the agreement made by this arm of government.
“We are hopeful and believe that Mr. President will buy into the agreement and with that, I believe this matter will be speedily brought to a close. In the meantime, between now and when Mr. President comes, ASUU itself will go back to its members with the resolutions we have come to today to get their buy-in. And I don’t believe there is an issue or a problem from what we discussed. I hope and pray there will not be a problem. Once that is done, I believe we will be good to go. And we will bring this sorry situation to an end.
“I did want to go into the details. They are not necessary at this time. What is most important is that at the end of the day, hopefully, we conclude on what we agreed on today”.
The ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke thanked the Speaker and the House for their intervention. “I think it is a good development and we are waiting for what they will send to us that can make our members wait. I believe that in the near future, this issue will be resolved.”
Osodeke said the Ministry of Education was yet to hold any formal meeting with ASUU since members of the union embarked on strike and that the Federal Government was more interested in punishing university lecturers, rather than finding solutions to the issues that led to the industrial action.
He also said that immediately the strike began, Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, stopped their salaries while the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, vowed that lecturers would be taught a lesson.
The Chairman, University of Ibadan Chapter of the Union, Prof Ayoola Akinwole, said letters were written to the House of Representatives,Senate in September and October 2021 and that they also sought the intervention of religious Leaders but got no positive outcome before the union commenced the industrial action.
“They all abandoned us. We gave religious bodies the opportunity, it yielded nothing. Most of the government people are feeding Nigerians with lies. ”
The Methodist Church Nigeria Prelate, His Eminence, Samuel Kanu-Uche during the church’s 180th anniversary of its existence and 60 years of autonomy in Lagos, has appealed to the Federal Government to reach a truce with the ASUU to avoid youths unrest.
“We are urging the Federal Government to have proper dialogue with ASUU. It has been there since ASUU was there. In the international community, it is suggested that 20 percent should go to education. Nigeria has never done this. I see it as maladministration,” he said.
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi, also urged the Federal Government and ASUU to resolve the lingering crisis through dialogue.
Sanusi stated this in New York where he was attending a three-day transforming education summit tagged ‘Transforming Education through Grassroots Innovation: A Localised Teacher-Led Approach’ at the ongoing United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
“Government needs to recognise that teachers are human beings. We are in a country where high levels of inflation and salaries don’t take teachers anywhere and teaching is a profession that needs to be valued from lowest to highest. Our education employees are staff of health establishments too. What we don’t know is that we have lost so many academics, many people who go abroad to do PhD don’t come back. Many medical doctors working in Nigeria have gone abroad.”