The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities to call off its four-week strike before the expiration date.
Ngige had met with the leadership of ASUU during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.
During the meeting which lasted for several hours, the minister accused ASUU of claiming that the government had failed to implement some long standing agreements.
Ngige in an interview said that ASUU demands were being reviewed, saying he would meet with ASUU and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council next week.
He said, “We have discussed quite a number of things and I am urging them to brief their members and call off the strike before the expiration of the one-month duration of the warning strike. By Monday, we would have dealt with some of the issues they are talking about and return to them for further discussion. We will meet again with them and the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council and we will take it from there.”
However, the national president of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke in an interview said that the union would not call off its strike if all its demands were not met.
Osodeke said, “We can call off the strike tomorrow if the FG implements and meets all our demands. It is in their hands to meet all the demands not in our hands. If they want it called off this week, next week, it is possible if they should do what they are supposed to do and not all these empty promises that we are not sure they will not implement. But If you call off the strike, as usual, they will abandon everything.”
But Ngige cautioned the union not to intimidate the committee and Ministry of Education, saying if they did, their document would not fly.
“We had a committee we impanelled in the ministry of education to take matters up because they are the direct employers of the lecturers. The committee was headed by Professor Manzali and there was a draft proposal which the education ministry has to agree on with them and then break it up to the higher bodies of the government, the Presidential Committee on Salaries, and from there, it goes to FEC for approval.
ASUU should not intimidate the education ministry or the committee to come up with things that are not in tandem with the normal rate. if they do that, the document will not fly. The ministry of education will resuscitate that committee within two weeks to look at the draft proposal it had with ASUU so that they can come up with something for the PSC to have a look at and send to FEC”.
Osodeke replied that all the union wanted was for the FG to implement the agreements.
“We have no problem and we are busy people he might have all the time, our own is for them to implement.
“If our union could negotiate during the military era and had agreements signed but in the civilian era they are telling us what to do and what not to do, that means something is wrong with this system. What they are doing now is to be blackmailing us and intimidating us.
“We are just waiting they have said this over and over. If they are serious let them implement all that we have agreed on. We can call off tomorrow if they implement. Nigerians should tell them to implement the agreement, we don’t gamble.” ,,