THE Federal Government may have reopened dialogue with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), in a bid to end the over two months old strike.
This came just as the National Association of Nigerians Students (NANS) urged both government and ASUU to return back to the negotiation table, with each party willing to shift ground from their previous positions.
Indications to the new development with ASUU emerged on Monday, when journalists were called to cover the meeting, which was eventually postponed till next week, with a ministry official saying this was to allow the supervising Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, get proper briefing on the current standpoint of the issues involved.
Wike was joined by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, for the meeting scheduled for 12 noon at the Federal Ministry of Education conference room before it was called off.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that the resumption of talks followed the exit of the former Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, who was dropped last week by President Goodluck Jonathan alongside eight other ministers.
The negotiation between the government and leadership of ASUU broke down over disagreement on payment of academic earned allowance to union members.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian students, under the auspices of NANS, have called on both the Federal Government and ASUU to return back to the negotiation table, in order to resolve their differences in good faith.
Acting Senate president of NANS, John Shima, while addressing newsmen in Abuja, lauded the sack of Professor Rufa’i and other ministers, as part of the initiatives of President Jonathan to retool the government.
“ASUU and Federal Government should go back to the negotiating table. Even after wars, issues are resolved at the roundtable. Nigerian students have been idle for 78 days.
“Nigerian students are tired of sitting at home. Both parties are urged to shift ground to ensure quick resolution of the crisis.
“We lost almost three years of study time in the last 10 years due to strikes; the lost time being enough to graduate a student in Germany,” Shima said.
Meanwhile, Benue State governor, Mr Gabriel Suswam, has vowed to get tough on striking lecturers of Benue State University, Makurdi, by evoking “no work, no pay” policy if they refuse to call off what he described as their “sympathy strike,” which had paralysed academic activities in the state.
Suswam said state-owned universities like that of Benue had no reason whatsoever to remain on strike, since it was federal universities and not states that were earlier involved in the negotiation with the Federal Government.
Suswam explained that Benue State University had been benefiting fully from the earned allowance for which the Federal Government voted N30 billion and had no cause to be complaining.
The governor, while addressing communicant members of the Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria, at Achusa village, Makurdi, at the weekend, decried the extent to which the strike had gone and admonished the authorities of the institution to expedite action towards suspending the protracted strike for students to resume in the next one week.
He condemned the level of dilapidated infrastructure in most state-owned universities, including Benue State University, but applauded the Federal Government for the release of N100 billion to assuage the problem.
Benue State University, the governor said, got N950 million for the execution of six projects within the institution, while he expressed optimism that the funds would be judiciously used for the growth of the university.