The dispute between the Federal Government and lecturers of tertiary institutions may end this week.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, told journalists at a briefing in Abuja on Sunday that issues which led to the industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and their counterparts in polytechnics had been resolved.
Adamu said, “I should comment now on the ongoing strike which I hope will be called off today or perhaps tomorrow but certainly there will be no strike by next week (this week).
“I expected that by now ASUU would have called off their strike because we have virtually reached agreement on all issues. So, I hope either today or tomorrow but certainly within the week, ASUU strike will be off.”
The minister said the government had released money to settle outstanding allowances and shortfalls.
He explained that the disbursement would be done by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
He commended the colleges of education lecturers for ending their strike.
Adamu said, “First, I will like to commend COEASU for calling off their strike. We will like to thank them for being so reasonable and for calling off the strike to allow students to be back in classes.
“Government will reciprocate this gesture by fulfilling all terms of agreement that we have reached with COEASU. In particular, I will like to tell you that we have reached the following agreements: The review of the Polytechnic Act. Government awaits the transmission of the amended document by the National Assembly to Mr President for his assent. We are waiting for the National Assembly to act; revitalisation of polytechnic and colleges of education. Government is committed to the revitalisation of facilities in institutions and has directed the minister of finance to source for additional funding to the tune of N30bn for that purpose. This is in reference to polytechnics and colleges of education and which is one of their demands.
“On the issue of state polytechnics, NBTE has been directed to strengthen regulatory mechanism because their complaint actually is that these institutions are left without supervision so that standards are low. NBTE will see to that.”
He added, “The issue of allowances shortfall is being addressed and government has released (N16, 800, 000, 000) to settle all outstanding arrears; disbursement is ongoing through the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.”
However, National President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said he was not in a position to say if the strike would end today or tomorrow because the leadership of the union was still awaiting the decision of its members at state levels.
He explained that it was true that the union and the Federal Government had agreed on some “non-contentious” items of the agreement.
Ogunyemi said, “I cannot tell you if the strike will end on Thursday or not. It is what our members tell us. ASUU president doesn’t have the final say on that.
“Government has given us what it can give us and we have sent it back to our members. We are waiting for their response.
“We have discussed all the areas and government has told us the last thing they could do. That thing they could do has now been committed in writing. We have that written position of government. We have looked at it and we promised them that we will take it to our members as a written document.”
He added, “We are expecting our members to consider and get back to us with our own final statement too. That is the progress that we have made. Government has given its own final statement. ASUU will make its own final statement known before the end of the week.
“There are those that are not contentious. We have commended government for facilitating the release of NUPEMCO licence, which is our PFA. They have largely paid the shortfall and there are one or two things that are still outstanding with that. But like I said, I cannot tell you the details until I hear from our members.”
Speaking in a similar vein, the President of ASUP, Usman Dutse, said the union had not suspended its strike.
He also said the union would take a decision after a meeting with its members within the week.
Dutse said, “There are some issues that were not resolved completely. Like the issue of Polytechnic Act is still there and CONTISS 15 is still there also. There is no particular timeline attached to it.”