The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) ended another negotiation meeting on Monday night without an immediate resolution of the ongoing strike.
The meeting which held at the Federal Ministry of Labour headquarters was to find a lasting solution to the ongoing strike by the university lecturers, which started on November 4, 2018.
At least six other meetings have been held between both parties since the strike started.
Dr. Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and employment, told the media after the four-hour meeting on Monday that meeting will reconvene at the instance of the union.
However, he said the government has released N163 billion from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) to satisfy some of the demands of ASUU.
”Today we have agreed to fund revitalisation. Government has released from TETFUND account about N163 billion. The meeting will reconvene at the instance of ASUU. FG is not weak in the negotiation. The strike is not slipping out of our hands,” he said.
”We did not take a long time than we anticipated. We have other commitments but the important thing is that we have made substantial progress. We have reached some agreements in seven areas,” he said.
Ngige said most of the issues have been resolved but ASUU will need to consult its members and come with what they think.
Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, the national president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said the meeting ended with grey areas to be resolved.
”We have not suspended the strike, discussion will continue at a later date. We are going back to our members for further consultation,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari had already ordered Ngige to end the over two-month-old strike by Nigerian university teachers at Monday’s meeting.
However, one major issue that keeps dragging the negotiations is the revitalisation fund for the universities.
At present, the government is yet to release the N1.1 trillion it agreed to release as part of the funds for the revitalisation project.
The 2013 MoU stipulated that public universities need N1.3 trillion for a modest revitalisation. The fund was to be released in tranches of N200 billion in 2013, N220 billion 2014, N220 billion 2015, N220 billion in 2016, N220 billion in 2017 and N220 billion in 2018.
The previous government of Goodluck Jonathan released N200 billion in 2013. But since then, nothing has been released.
Ogunyemi said before the strike can be suspended, the government must address the issue of revitalisation.
”Revitalisation is central to our academic work. Unless that area is addressed, our members will still have issues. We are not demanding for N50 billion, we are saying that the minimum that FG can release to reactivate revitalisation fund is N50 billion,” he said.
The union embarked on the strike on November 4 over the poor funding of Nigerian universities and non-implementation of previous agreements by the government.
Ngige confirmed that the Revitalisation issue is beyond the supposed N50 billion first tranche release.
”If you aggregate the total amount of money involved, it is beyond N50 billion. We are paying in several compartments and these are debt from 2009 to 2012. We have started defraying the earned allowances there and released N15.4 billion for shortfall in the payment of salaries,” he said.