Efforts to woo members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities back to the negotiating table may have hit a brick wall as executive members of the striking union failed to take part in the inauguration of a seven-man committee set up by the Federal Government to renegotiate the existing agreements.
Our correspondent, who was at the inauguration held at the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, on Monday, observed that no ASUU official was present.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, inaugurated the committee in the presence of the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, and members of the panel led by Emeritus Prof Nimi Briggs, who is the Pro-Chancellor, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo.
Adamu gave the committee a three-month timeframe to renegotiate all the previous agreements the Federal Government entered into with ASUU, especially the 2009 pact.
ASUU had said it would not be part of any fresh negotiation of the agreements, especially when the previous ones had not been fulfilled.
Although ASUU is still observing its month-long warning strike, some of the reasons for the strike are the disagreement on the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, and the non-release of the universities’ revitalisation fund running into several billions of naira.
Adamu, however, said, “There is no gain saying that the earnest desire of every stakeholder in the Nigerian university system and, indeed, the nation at large is to conclude this re-negotiation within the shortest possible period.
“Therefore, I wish to specially appeal to this reconstituted committee to double its effort towards concluding the assignment and producing a realistic and workable draft agreement that will holistically tackle the challenges confronting the Nigerian university system and reposition it to effectively play its very important role in national development.
“The committee is expected to review the draft proposed FGN/ASUU agreement and has the following terms of reference: Liaise and consult with relevant stakeholders to finalise the position of the Federal Government on the issues in the draft proposed FGN/ASUU renegotiated agreement;
“Renegotiate in realistic and workable terms the 2009 agreements with other university-based unions; negotiate and recommend any other issue the committee deems relevant to reposition the NUS for global competitiveness; and submit proposed draft agreements within three months from the date of inauguration.”