The Friday meeting between the federal government and leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ended without a resolution of the strike by the university lecturers. The meeting was then adjourned to February 7.
The lecturers embarked on an indefinite strike on November 4. They are demanding improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.
The meeting which started few minutes to 12 noon held at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja. The meeting ended at 3:15 pm
Prior to Friday’s meeting, at least eight other meetings held between both parties.
The national president of the union, Biodun Ogunyemi, said the union will be unable to communicate the outcome of the meeting with journalists until “I communicate with my members”.
According to him, ”we have another set of information for our members and we will like to hear from them before saying anything.
“We have discussed on all the areas but we need to tell our members first. It was the feedback and we have a set of information for our members,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi said the meeting has been adjourned till next week Thursday.
In his address, the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, said all the demands of the unions have been met.
“Well, the meeting has been protracted and we are getting to the end of the tunnel and we will soon see the light,” he said.
When asked about the federal government’s response to the demands of N50 billion made by the union ”to demonstrate its commitment to the revitalisation of public universities, in line with previous agreements with them”, Mr Ngige said the government cannot afford the amount.
”But we will offer something reasonable which they are taking back to their members,” he said.
Both parties refused to give any specific details of what was discussed in the meeting.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how the union asked the Nigerian government to release N50 billion to demonstrate its commitment to the revitalisation of public universities, in line with previous agreements with them.
The striking lecturers gave this as one of the conditions for calling off the strike.
A major issue dragging the negotiations forth and back is the “revitalisation” of the universities.
At present, the government is yet to release the N1.1 trillion it agreed to release as part of the funds for the project.
The 2013 MoU stipulated that public universities need N1.3 trillion for ‘a modest revitalisation’.
The fund was to be released in tranches of N200 billion in 2013; N220 billion 2014; N220 billion 2015; 220 billion in 2016; N220 billion in 2017 and N220 billion in 2018.
The previous government of Goodluck Jonathan released N200 billion in 2013. Since then, no major bulk sum has been released.
Meanwhile, ASUU on Monday received the certificate of operation for a pension management company.
The refusal of the Pencom Commission to approve the commission was one of the major issues in the dispute between the ASUU and the federal government.