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Varsities’ strike continues as ASUU fails to seal deal with government

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige

The hope of the Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) and Federal Government reaching agreement over the lingering strike action in the universities has again been dashed, as both parties failed to reach an agreement yesterday in Abuja.

The teachers, who are demanding the implementation of agreement entered into by the government with the union, have been on strike since November last year.

Even though the government claimed it has met ASUU’s demand reasonably, the issue of university Revitalisation Fund is a major issue stalling an agreement.

While the union is insisting on the government releasing the sum of N50billion as part of the first tranche of the Revitalisation Fund, the government has said it does not have the resources and cannot afford to release the amount and instead offered N20billion, which the union has rejected.

However, after their last meeting, the union said it was consulting with its members with the hope of meeting the government this week to iron out the gray areas. But both parties emerged from their meeting yesterday without resolving the issue and were not forthcoming on what they discussed.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, was evasive when asked the outcome of the parley, saying: “The meeting was protracted, but the good news is that we have gotten to the end of the tunnel.”

On what has been agreed on as the amount to be released by government as Revitalisation Fund, he said: “We meet them half way. We have finished the gray areas and on the issue of N50billion, we have offered what we have.

“We do not have N50billion and we cannot do N50 billion, but has offered them something reasonable. So, they have taken it back to go and present to their members.”

He, however, expressed hope that students would return to school soon, adding: “We will know when they will go back by Thursday.”

On his part, ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, was also evasive about details, saying: “We have adjourned till Thursday.”

Asked the level of progress made so far, he said: “I cannot tell you that now until I tell my members. It is the feedback we came for today, but we have set of information for our members and until we tell our members, we cannot tell you.”

On the N50billion demand by the union, Ogunyemi reiterated: “Until we meet our members, we cannot give any information. But we are making progress and the progress we are making is for everybody interest and stakeholders will benefit at the end of the day.

“We will be meeting on Thursday, after which, we will address the press.”

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