By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
THE Federal Government yesterday gave insight into why no union in the nation’s university system education was invited to last Thursday’s meeting held to assess the progress made so far on addressing the few outstanding demands of the striking university workers, such as the contentious payment platform and the renegotiation of their conditions of service.
In a statement by Head, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, the government lamented the combative and several unfounded allegations by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, against it, particularly the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige.
“All insinuations that the Ministry of Labour does not sympathise with the students, unions and parents, of which the Minister is one, should be disabused.
“ASUU should know that we are arbitrators and conciliators. We cannot manufacture agreements. Regardless, we are not constrained from listening to the government side and pushing them to do their own bit as quickly as possible,” the Labour Ministry said in a statement issued last night.
The faulted ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke’s comments during an interview on Channels Television that his union did not receive any invitation from the Federal Government to attend the meeting held last Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The statement read: “We will start by making some clarifications on the government side meeting held last Thursday, June 23, 2022, geared towards accelerating the resolution of the multiple strikes of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and other university-based unions, including the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU, and National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT.
The meeting was meant for the inter-ministerial departments and agencies committees of the Federal Government, including the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Budget Office of the Federation, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, NSIWC, the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.
”The committees are reporting to the office of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment
”The meeting in question was called to assess the progress made so far on addressing the few outstanding demands of the striking university workers, such as the contentious payment platform and the renegotiation of their conditions of service.
”These two committees were empanelled by the Minister and the Chief of Staff to the President at the last tripartite plus meetings of the unions and the government side.”
on several occasions received commendation from ASUU leadership for his role in the resolution of the impasse in the education sector.
”Acting with the Chief of Staff to the President, he empanelled the two committees to work assiduously and according to the law, towards the resolution of the teething issues of payment platform and renegotiation of the conditions of service. The claims made here are verifiable, being out there in public domain.
”Nonetheless, the ministry will not allow itself to be bullied by any union into forcing any payment platform on government, which took a decision to adopt the IPPIS in 2017.”