BY OKEY NDIRIBE
There are indications that the on-going strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities might be called off next Thursday.
Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam who dropped this hint Friday said ASUU and the Federal Government had reached agreements on all the contentious issues that led to the industrial action except two.
Suswam who was appointed as Chairman of the Needs Assessment Implementation Committee of the Federal Government said after next Thursday’s deliberations between his Committee and the various agencies of government funding tertiary education, all the contentious issues would likely be resolved.
Speaking to news men in Abuja after attending a meeting between the Federal Government’s delegation and ASUU, Suswam said that agreements had been reached by both parties on all issues except two.
Said he: “We reached agreements on all issues except two. These two issues are those of earned allowances of lecturers and intervention for the federal universities. These are the only issues that are still outstanding.”
The Benue Governor further said he believed that by next week after his Committee would have arrived at an agreement on all the issues, ASUU would call off the strike.
He continued: “The SGF would meet with the leadership of ASUU on the issue of earned allowances by next Monday.
Then my committee which is dealing with the issue of the needs assessment of the universities would meet again next Thursday and take another look at all the infrastructural deficits which the federal universities are facing.
If you go to our universities, you would agree that they are facing infrastructural deficits and that is why my committee would meet with all the funding agencies next Thursday for the purpose of prioritizing all the projects that need to be executed. We are going to invite all the agencies that are involved in the funding of the universities including the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
Suswam further stated that the issues on agreements have been reached include: those of retirement age for university lecturers- which has now been increased from 65 to 70 years; the constitution of the governing councils of the universities which has already been done by the Government; the setting up of a pension administrator and the issue of persuading companies operating in the country to set up research centers in the universities.
Said he: “As far as I am concerned, if the issues concerning intervention and earned allowances are resolved next week, then the strike could be called off”
Among those who attended the meeting were Secretary to the Government of the Federation Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Minister of Labour, Hon. Emeka Wogu, Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayatu Rufai and President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Nasir Fagge.