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FG inaugurates committee to renegotiate 1999 agreements with varsity unions

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1999 agreements
Malam Adamu Adamu

Assures of imminent reopening of universities

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-THE federal government, Wednesday, inaugurated a committee to renegotiate the agreements it had with university-based unions in 1999.

The action of the government followed controversies that have trailed the terms of the agreements by both parties.

Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the reconstituted federal government’s team for the renegotiation, in Abuja, explained that, “The federal government team is expected to take another look at the 2009 agreements reached with the university-based unions and work with each union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system.”

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The government’s team, which is categorised into substantive members, advisers and observers are led by Professor Emeritus Munzali Jibril.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari “approved the reconstituted Federal Government Team for the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreements.”

Noting that the “Federal Government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months have been neck-deep in several meetings with the leadership of
the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities,” Adamu reaffirmed “the commitment of the present administration to finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most
especially, the university sub-sector.”

“It is noteworthy that although most of the residual issues were part of the the comprehensive agreement reached with the previous administration, I can report
that significant progress has, so far, been recorded and there is an opportunity that our public universities, like their private counterparts, will soon reopen for academic activities,” he said.

He added: “Let me re-affirm the commitment of the present administration to finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most
especially, the university sub-sector.

“Government is determined to, within available resources, provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian
universities.”

According to him, “Government, like other stakeholders, is also worried about the vicious cycle over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other.”

“The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfill their tripod mandates of teaching, research, and community action.

“All these have impacted negatively on our learning outcomes and the reputation of the Nigerian brand, which hitherto was the pride of the nation,” he added.

According to the minister, “The FGN team is expected to take another look at the 2009 Agreements reached with the university-based Unions and work with each Union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university
system.”

” It has also become necessary and urgent that all hands must now be on deck to restore the confidence reposed in university education by students, parents and the general public.

The minister explained that the committee members were “carefully selected in recognition of your records in university management and academic leadership.”

” The team which is also well tested, comprises technocrats and some of the shining lights and Nigeria’s leading figures in higher education. You, therefore, collectively embody the
aspirations, dignity, and limitless potentials of our educational system and nation, at large,” he further explained.

He said the terms of reference of the team include: ” Re-negotiate the residual issues in the 2009 Agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the university-based unions, towards a workable and implementable agreement between both parties, such that will facilitate repositioning of Nigerian universities for greater
responsibilities in national development;

” Propose and prescribe short, medium and long-term measures for the sustainable funding and management of Federal universities, to restore lasting peace, stability, harmony, and progress in the Nigerian university System; and ” Make any other recommendations, as may be necessary, to ensure the realistic implementation of future agreements, by all stakeholders.”

Turning to the team,Adamu said: “Let me congratulate you on your appointment, which is a clarion call to service.

“Your full commitment and dedication to duty is required, as I have no doubt that you will apply yourselves fully to the task implicit in your assignment.

” I, therefore, urge you to put your best in making any recommendations, given the full implications of such actions to the funding and management of the university
education in the foreseeable future.”

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