ASUU President says progress was made at the meeting and that his team would take the President's message to members.
After a marathon 13-hour meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the union's leader said there was a message from the President which would be presented to their members for consideration.
There are however indications that the meeting, which started at about 2:40 p.m Monday afternoon and went on till aout 3:30 a.m Tuesday morning, may have yielded positive results.
Monday's meeting is the first time the president would lead government's delegation team for negotiation with ASUU since the commencement of the strike four months ago.
The presidency had taken over the negotiation with the striking union on September 20, with Vice President Namadi Sambo heading the government team. He however was unable to make any headway in the talks with the university teachers.
Emerging from the meeting at the First Lady's conference room at the presidential villa, ASUU President, Nasir Faggae said, "We have had 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 the message of Mr. President."
On whether the lecturers are now going back to the classroom, the ASUU President said, "that is up to our members."
When asked to disclose the the President's message that would be delivered to the members of the union, Mr. Faggae said, "I cannot tell you, it's not for you, it is for our members."
On whether he was impressed with the President’s message, Mr. Faggae said, "Don't put words into my mouth, our members will determine that."
However, Labour Minister, Emeka Wogu told State House Correspondents that meaningful progress was made in the negotiations with ASUU, expressing hope that the striking lecturers would call off the strike.
Mr. Wogu said, “We made progress, the President of ASUU told you that they are going back with a message from the Federal Government back to their members and the message is full of high expectations and hope.”
On whether the strike would be called off, he said: "That is why the message is full of high expectations and hope. So our prayers is that they come back with positive outcome. They might not even come back to meet us, they might take decisions there that will meet your expectations."
"Nigerians should be patient for ASUU to finish their meetings and come out with a message to Nigerians."
Responding to whether the Federal Government made a fresh offer to the striking lecturers, the Minister said, "the offer we made are the offer they are taking in line with the 2009 agreement. The issues that led to the strike are issues contained in the 2009 agreement and we did not go beyond the agreement."
About four hours into the meeting (6:30p.m. Monday) the meeting broke for a 15-minute break. The ASUU President led his team to their bus, a white Toyota Bus with Lagos registration number, BU 190 EPE, to confer amongst themselves. While making the consultation, the ASUU leaders left the leadership of the NLC, the TUC and government representatives back at the hall.
The meeting resumed at about 6:50 p.m.
The ASUU President led members of the national leadership of the academic union, including his deputy, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, three past presidents of ASUU, Professor Festus Iyayi, Professor Dipo Fashina and Professor Abdullahi Sule-Kano.
Other members of ASUU delegation include Professor Suleiman Abdul, Professor Victor Osodeke and Dr. Victor Igbum.
The President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Bobboi Kaigama as well as staff and other members of the congress were also at the meeting.
On the side of government were Vice President Sambo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim; Chief of Staff to the President, Mike Oghiadhomhe; Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; her counterpart in the Labour and Productivity Ministry, Emeka Wogu and the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike.
Also at the meeting were the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Mac John Nwaobiala; Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie and Director, Tertiary Education in the Ministry of Education, Dr. Hindatu Abdullahi.
- News 24 (Premium Times)