Over one week after government owned university lecturers’ commenced strike, the federal government has finally called them for a meeting.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will on Thursday, hold the crucial meeting with the Nigerian government.
The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m., and was called at the instance of the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, and the government’s negotiating team.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the government, as at Sunday, a week after strike commenced, was yet to call for a meeting with ASUU.
Thursday’s meeting is at the invitation of the federal government.
Confirming this development, the president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said the lecturers are not optimistic about the outcome of the meeting which, he said, “will determine the seriousness of the Nigerian government towards ending the strike.”
“The government has invited us for a meeting tomorrow, we are not sure of their seriousness because we have been discussing with them for 16 months without any result,” he said.
On the readiness of the lecturers to call off the strike if tomorrow’s meeting swings in their favour, he said the union members will decide.
“After the meeting, we will tell members the outcome. They are the only ones who can decide to call off the strike.”
The official also said he is not concerned about the formation of a parallel union by some aggrieved lecturers, “who have kept on teaching, regardless of the strike order.”
Some lecturers at the Obafemi Awolowo University, under a rival union, Congress of Nigerian Universities Academics, have been teaching despite the strike.
“ASUU is the only recognised lecturers’ body. Some persons are free to show they are annoyed but truthfully, the strike is on and all lecturers have respected it,” the official said.
He also denied rumours that the lecturers have accepted government’s proposal to set up an education bank, which was one of the reasons they went on strike in the first place.
“We have not accepted education banking. We were surprised on reports that we accepted it. It is a means to exploit students and make them pay tuition fee.
“Some students do not get jobs even five years after graduation and they will be asked to repay a million naira. That is selling them to slavery totally,” he said.
The ASUU president said the N200 billion released by the federal Government in September 2018 is not an issue and that the N200 billion ought to have been released in October 2017 as part of the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding. In the memorandum, the government agreed to inject N1.3 trillion to fund universities at N220 billion yearly, for five years.
Mr Ogunyemi said the situation on campuses may degenerate and be worse than the already poor quality teaching and learning obvious in majority of public primary and secondary schools if government fails to fund public universities.
The union insists that the ‘No Work, No Pay’ threats by government cannot be directed at the lecturers as industrial action is legal in Nigerian labour law and international conventions, which Nigeria is signatory to.
Other demands of ASUU include improved funding of education and improved teaching and learning conditions in the universities.