The federal government on Monday resumed talks with the leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with both sides expressing hope of an agreement that would bring an end to the ongoing strike in public universities.
Lecturers at the universities went on strike on November 4 last year, demanding improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.
The National President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, led the union’s delegation to Monday’s meeting.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported ASUU saying it would not honour further calls by the federal government for a meeting with its members on the strike.
But Mr Ogunyemi told PREMIUM TIMES Sunday afternoon that the union was available for discussion with the government.
“They said they have taken some steps and they want to present them tomorrow,” he said. “So, we want to see what they have done. And if they are convincing enough, we will inform our members.”
The ASUU delegation arrived at the ministry at exactly 4:30 p.m on Monday.
Also in attendance were the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Sunny Echono; the National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba; and officials from the National Universities Commission, Head of Service and Salaries, Wages and Income Commission.
The meeting is holding at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja.
Six other meetings had been held between both parties since the strike began.
When the government delegation arrived, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, was absent. However, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr Echono, was present.
The government delegation was led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
In his opening remarks, Mr Ngige expressed optimism that the meeting would be short and fruitful, adding that feelers from the Federal Government gave reason to hope that an agreement would be reached tonight.
”The deliberation will be short as the government has done a lot of work since the meeting was adjourned,” he said.
While responding to the appeal by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) that the media should cover the technical session, Mr Ngige said he would make sure the students return to school as soon as possible.
”I feel your pain but none of my children is schooling abroad, ” Mr Ngige said.
Similarly, the ASUU president said it appeared there was good news for the union from what the minister said.
In his speech, NANS President, Danielson Akpan, said it was essential for the media to cover the technical session for proper reportage of the deliberation.