President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday directed the two Federal Government committees negotiating the requests by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), to take immediate measures at ending the on-going strike.
The Chairman of the Universities Needs Implementation Committee, Gov. Gabriel Suswam of Benue, made this known after a closed-door meeting of the two committees and other stakeholders with President Jonathan at the State House.in Abuja.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo, the Chairman of the Earned Allowance Committee and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim were in attendance at the meeting.
Also in attendance were, Ministers of Education, Prof. Ruqayyat Rufai, Labour, Emeka Wogu, the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okogie and the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Oghiadome.
Speaking with State House correspondents, Suswam said that the meeting was summoned by the President “to take some decisions that would end the strike’’.
“The President has instructed us, as to what to do, and he has shown a lot of commitments to flagging off projects worth about N100 billion in all the universities in the country, about 61 of them.
“So, we are hoping that we will be able to see the end of the strike very soon.
“At the end of the day, we hope ASUU is satisfied with the measures that have so far been taken.
“The federal government will also be meeting with the Universities Councils and Vice Chancellors of our universities within the week towards updating them on some of the decisions taken,’’ he said.
Suswam said about N100 billion had been approved by the Federal Government to his committee to address infrastructure deficit in all the Universities.
“The president has graciously agreed that in the first week of September he will be able to flag-off the projects.
“You also know that the procurement process will have to be followed and these projects include hostels in our universities, classrooms and theatres, libraries and laboratories among others.
“Some are renovation some are new and all the 61 universities are going to benefit from one project or another.
“So, it is not going to be selective, all the universities are going to benefit from this infrastructural revitalisation of our universities.
The governor said that the Earned Allowance Committee being headed by the SGF, where there were contentious issues, would be addressed.
“As you must have heard, the federal government made an offer of N30 billion to assist the various Councils of our universities to be able to pay the earned allowances,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls ASUU had rejected the offer of the N30 billion by government and stood on its N87 billion demand to settle the earned allowances.
Asked whether government would be willing to shift ground on the ASUU insistence, Suswam said negotiation was still on-going,
“The federal government has opted to also meet with the Councils and Managements of the Universities, because Earned Allowance is something that can be certified by the management and councils of the universities.
“I think that the government has demonstrated some substantial faith,’’ he said.
NAN also recalls that the meeting between the striking university lecturers and the federal government delegation on Monday was reportedly deadlocked. (NAN)