UPDATED: ASUU resumes negotiations with government, announces suspension of strike

*No amount of sacrifice would be too much to get the matter resolved as long as the government is consistent with its commitments, says Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, President of ASUU

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Nine months after, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Wednesday, December 23, 2020, “conditionally” suspended its strike, ending a protracted industrial action that started since March.

Prof. Abiodun Ogunyemi, President of ASUU, who made the announcement during a media briefing in Abuja, FCT, explained that the development followed the agreement reached with the Federal Government and a meeting with its National Executive Council (NEC).

According to Ogunyemi, the suspension of the strike takes effect from Thursday, December 24, 2020.

Though warning that the union would return to strike without notice if the Federal Government fails to meet its part of the agreement reached with the University lecturers, the ASUU President stated that the reopening of the schools, considering the COVID-19 pandemic, lies with the Federal Government and Senate of the universities.

The Federal Government and ASUU delegations during negotiations in Abuja, FCT     Photo: BBC

He thanked the students and their parents for their understanding throughout the nine-month period.

The don said: “No amount of sacrifice would be too much to get the matter resolved as long as the government is consistent with its commitments.”

Regarding the contentious Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) tussle, the ASUU boss noted that both parties have agreed on the University Transparency Account System (UTAS).

However, he noted that the University lecturers’ salary arrears would be paid by the government on a different platform.

Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria Tuesday, December 22, 2020, said it was hopeful that the ongoing strike by university lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) would soon be over.

Sen. (Dr.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment, disclosed this Tuesday, December 22, at a meeting in Abuja, FCT, as the Federal Government resumed negotiations with the leadership of ASUU, with a view to ending the industrial action that has crippled academic activities in the country’s public universities for several months.

The Minister in his opening address had urged the academics led by Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, President of ASUU, to ensure that the discussions yielded the desired result.

Ngige said the government had addressed all grey areas, and those who plan to occupy the streets January 2021 to begin an #EndStrike protest would be disappointed.

Ogunyemi acknowledged that much progress has been made in the negotiations so far.

The don stated that he is also hopeful that the meeting would end the long strike, as his colleagues were all ready and willing to get back to work, provided the government does what it ought to do.

It was learnt after the Minister and ASUU President gave their remarks, the meeting entered into a technical session for further consultations.

Report indicated that Tuesday’s meeting came to be a month after the Federal Government offered a cumulative sum of N65 billion to the lecturers to address earned academic allowances and revitalisation of universities.

Ngige noted that the government at the meeting november 20, had decided to shift grounds on the lingering issues that have kept students out of the classroom since March 2020.

He noted that in the government’s bid to resolve the impasse with ASUU, the sum of N15 billion from the amount offered by the government would be for more funds to revitalise the universities.

The fund was in addition to the N20 billion paid earlier, making it a total of N35 billion committed as revitalisation fund by the government, said Ngige.

Ogunyemi had also at the end of the meeting acknowledged that the government had made some new offers to the union and progress had been made.

He, however, said the union leaders would report to their organs and get back to the government on the position of their members.

Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Universities has said that it will address a press conference on the outcome of its negotiations with the Federal Government Wednesday, December 23, 2020.

The union plans to take the opportunity to formally make a statement suspending its nine-month-old industrial action, as well as give details of the agreement reached with the federal government over their demands, ThisDay report said.

The decision to suspend the strike came as the Federal Government offered to pay the lecturers two-month salary arrears with an undertaking to progressively offset the outstanding salaries by end of January 2021.

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