By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG & BEN AGANDE
THERE are strong indications that the protracted strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, that has crippled academic activities for over four months may end in the next one week, Vanguard has gathered.
Vanguard sources at the Monday night meeting between the Federal Government led by President Goodluck Jonathan, the leadership of ASUU, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, said both the Federal Government and leaders of ASUU had shifted grounds and leaders of ASUU would meet with its organ (National Executive Council) to brief members of the outcome and then take necessary action.
One of the sources told Vanguard: “Both the Federal Government and the leadership of ASUU are now on the same page. Both parties have shifted grounds. The leadership of ASUU will now meet with its appropriate organ to brief its members and take the necessary action.
“ASUU is in the right position to inform the public after meeting with its organ. However, I can tell you that all things being equal, the strike should be over in the next one week.”
The meeting between the government and the labour leaders started at about 2:30pm on Monday and ended at about 3:30am on Tuesday with a 15 minutes break.
Fagge, Wogu speak
National President of ASUU, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, emerged from the meeting and curtly told newsmen that his delegation was taking back a message from President Jonathan to their members.
He declined to disclose what the message was and when asked whether he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, the ASUU leader told journalists not to put words in his mouth.
He said: “We have had a lengthy meeting with Mr. President, rubbing minds on how best to address the problem of university education in this country.
“We now have a message from Mr. President that we are going to take to our members and we are expecting that our members will respond appropriately to his message.”
The Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu, who also attended the meeting, told journalists after the meeting that certain mileage had been attained and expressed the hope that the university lecturers would call off the strike soon.
He said: “The President of ASUU told you that they are going back with a message from the Federal Government to their members and the message is full of high expectation and hope.
“Our prayer is that they will come back with a positive outcome. They might even not come back to meet us. They might take decisions that will meet your expectations.”
According to the Minister, what government brought to the negotiation table were offers that were in tandem with the 2009 agreements between it and ASUU, pointing out that since the strike was based on the 2009 agreement, the government did not go beyond that agreement.
President Jonathan, who led the Federal Government’s delegation, was joined by Vice President Namadi Sambo; Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim; Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike; and minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu.
The ASUU delegation was led by its President, Dr. Nasiru Fagge; past presidents such as Professor Abdulahi Sule-Kano, Dr. Dipo Fashina and Professor Festus Iyayi.
Other members of the delegation were Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, Prof. Victor Osodeke, Prof. Suleiman Abdul, Dr. Victor Igbum and Mr. Michael Odunmoraye.
President NLC, Abdulawahid Omar and TUC, Bobboi Kaigama, also attended the meeting.
While exchanging pleasantries with the ASUU delegation, President Jonathan had told them “I hope this strike will end today. Our children have suffered enough. We must find a solution.”