Following the failure of the federal government to find a lasting solution to the lingering strike by public university lecturers, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decided to hold a meeting with the lecturers’ union, the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) on January 4, ahead of the 2019 polls.
The national president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, confirmed the development to PREMIUM TIMES Monday morning.
According to Mr Ogunyemi, the major reason for the meeting is for the union to assist the electoral body in the forthcoming election.
The meeting, according to the electoral body, will be limited to the involvement of their members in the 2019 general elections.
Mr Ogunyemi said the meeting will hold in Abuja.
ASUU embarked on an industrial action on November 4 to protest the poor funding of Nigerian universities and an alleged plan by the federal government to increase students’ fees and introduce an education bank.
But INEC had raised an alarm that the lingering ASUU strike would no doubt have a serious impact on the preparations for the conduct of the 2019 elections.
“They are one critical resource and their absence will have adverse effects on the ad hoc staff requirement of INEC,” the commission had said.
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) disagreed with the statement by INEC that the strike by university lecturers could jeopardise the 2019 elections saying, “the ongoing national strike by ASUU has nothing to do with the 2019 elections.”
However, THISDAY newspaper reported INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, saying the commission is hopeful and positive that its scheduled meeting with the leadership of ASUU and the leadership of other unions in federal tertiary institutions on Friday would yield the desired result.
“ASUU leadership and the leadership of the commission led by the Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, will hold a consultative meeting with the leadership of ASUU on the 4th day of January 2019,” Mr Okoye said.
He said the scheduling of the meeting is a clear indication that both parties are concerned and determined to find a middle ground that will enable the members of ASUU to continue their additional services to the country.
“The commission wants to emphasise that the meeting with the various unions will be limited to the involvement of their members in the 2019 general elections and how to manage the current industrial action for it not to affect the patriotic contributions of staff and students in the electoral process,” he said.
He said it was also incumbent on the various stakeholders in the electoral process to nudge the parties towards a negotiated settlement of the issues that led to the industrial action in the various tertiary institutions.