By JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU
ABUJA — Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, yesterday, said that the only thing that would make its striking members go back to the classrooms is the full implementation of the 2009 agreement and not any new offer or palliatives from the Federal Government.
President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Fagge, who stated this in a telephone interview with Vanguard in Abuja, said it was better to get it right once and for all instead of palliative measures that would not help the system compete with other universities in the world.
Fagge said that government had established the attitude of making promises without fulfilling them and that until the 2009 agreement was implemented, universities will remain closed.
He said: “The problem is that we have gone beyond the point of making offers now. We have a comprehensive agreement, which was arrived at after three years of negotiation from 2006.
“We had demands from both sides— ASUU and government— and like I said earlier, we reduced those two demands into an agreement within three years of negotiations.
“And at this point, we are talking of the implementation of the agreement. So, at this point, government should not be talking or making offers. If government wasn’t ready to implement the agreement, government shouldn’t have signed the agreement.
“What is becoming clear to us is that government is still going back to its usual antics. We signed an agreement.
“Government will just single out what affects the staff directly to implement and then expect them to go back and continue the deception in the system.
“Without good research, teaching and effective delivery of production of knowledge, universities cannot move and this is why the nation has been blaming us for the kind of students we are graduating in our universities.
“So what we are saying is that we are also tired of this. What we want is let the agreement be implemented and then we look at the impact of the implementation.
“Then if there is the need for us to review the situation, we will do it through another round of negotiations. But at this point, we are not talking about making offers. Government made offers on negotiation table between 2006 and 2009.”
Gov Aliyu denies report
Meanwhile, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, yesterday, denied a media report that quoted him as saying that the team of negotiators on the side of the Federal Government in the ongoing talks with ASUU was incompetent.
A national daily (not Vanguard) had in a report, yesterday, quoted Aliyu as “doubting the abilities of the negotiators on the side of the Federal Government to achieve any breakthrough in the ongoing dialogue with the lecturers”
Governor Aliyu’s spokesman, Danladi Ndayebo, described the story as untrue, urging the reading public to disregard the report.
He said the report was misleading and did not reflect Governor Aliyu’s comments at the National Universities Commission, NUC, in Abuja, where the governor addressed a continental workshop on the 3rd Regional Centre of Expertise, RCE.
‘What he said’
Ndayebo said: “What Governor Aliyu said is that Federal Government can afford to offer free basic and senior secondary education, while heavily subsidising tertiary education if government officials cut down on spending public funds unnecessarily.
“Governor Aliyu then encouraged constant dialogue between labour unions and government, stressing that strikes were unheard of in other West African countries because there was constant dialogue between the unions and government.”