The Vice President Namadi Sambo has, in a bid to end the continuous gridlock in the dialogue between the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and federal government, taken over the negotiation process.
The government’s negotiation team was formerly headed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim.
For the first time since the commencement of the over 10-week-old strike action by the union, the Vice President met with the leadership of the union at the Presidential Villa on Thursday.
The meeting was held behind closed doors.
Nigerian Universities have been shut down since June 30 as a result of federal government’s failure to honour an agreement signed between it and ASUU in 2009 bothering on issues of university funding and improvement of infrastructure in the sector.
Speaking to journalists at the Presidential Villa after the closed door meeting, the ASUU President, Nasir Fagge, said that he was taking back a “message given to him at the meeting for his members” and that Nigerians would have to wait for the response of his members on the way forward.
“We have had a meeting with the Vice President and he has given us a message to our members, and we said that as the messengers that we are, we are going to deliver the message faithfully to our members and then they will take the decision.”
According to him, “I know Nigerians are expecting a solution to the strike, we also want a solution, but I have been given a message to our members. The message is not for Nigerians, it is for our members”.
“If I deliver the message, our principal will decide and we will get back to the ministry of education within this week,” he added, saying the union would get back to the education minister on its stance on the government’s latest offer.
The federal government had offered N100 billion and N30 billion for infrastructure development in various universities and payment of verified earned allowances of lecturers respectively. It is not clear if the government made an improved offer for the lecturers whose only demand is that government implements fully the 2009 agreement.
The Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, who was also at the meeting, explained that the meeting had been convened to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
“One is quite hopeful that ASUU is committed, they have the passion and that there is the need for us to move the education sector forward.
“ASUU coming to discuss means that they are committed on their own part and that the federal government is also committed. We have gone very far, we believe that in no distance time, you will have a very good result,” he said.
Also on the ASUU delegation were two former Presidents of ASUU, Dipo Fasina and Abdullahi Sule-Kano.
Other members of the government’s delegation included the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Julius Okojie; as well as the Vice Chancellors of Bayero University Kano (BUK), University of Ibadan (UI) and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, Abdulrasheed Abubakar, Isaac Adewole, and Muhammed Muhammed respectively.