The leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government will on Thursday hold a meeting to resolve the lingering strike in the nation’s universities.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, confirmed on Tuesday that he had received an invitation to a meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja.
Also, the National Association of Nigerian Students has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to resolve the ASUU strike.
The group, on Tuesday, threatened violence if the government failed to prevail on the union to call off the strike.
Speaking to one of our correspondents on the telephone, Ogunyemi said the ASUU negotiating team would be at the meeting to hear what the government had done so far in respect of the seven demands tabled for implementation.
He stated, “We have a scheduled meeting on Thursday; we received the invitation today (Tuesday). We would be at the meeting. We go to every meeting with open mind and also believe the government will come with open mind and if they (government officials) mean well, we will resolve the issue.”
The don said he did not envisage any problem, adding that the government would be expected to highlight the demands it had implemented and to give a time frame on the ones that would be implemented subsequently.
“Our demands are clear, seven issues with timelines. They are expected to have started implementing them; we don’t see much problem here.
“They will just tell us how far they have implemented them and tell us which ones they cannot implement for now, and give us the time frame (for implementation),” Ogunyemi stated.
Asked if the government had released the N23bn it promised last month to the universities, the union leader said he did not know if this had been done.
But NANS factional president, Haruna Kadiri, who led his group on protest to the Ministry of Education, Abuja on Tuesday, over the strike, stated that students bore the brunt of labour dispute between university lecturers and government.
This, he noted, made them unattractive to the labour market which he said often preferred graduates from private universities who concluded their academic programmes within stipulated time.
Kadiri said, “We are here to demand to know when the strike would be called off. The government has not been tackling the issues that led to the strike, but politicising them and dividing the ranks of the lecturers.
“As researchers, ASUU should carry out research and find solutions to the issues instead of going on strike.
“We are issuing a two-week ultimatum for the strike to be resolved. If after the ultimatum, the FG and ASUU didn’t resolve the strike, the next protest will not be peaceful. We would carry out civil unrest and we are ready to be detained in the guardroom.”
The student leader also condemned the new cut-off marks for university and polytechnic admissions as announced by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, describing the cut-off marks as retrogressive and ‘anti-education.’
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, who addressed the students, assured them that the government was working to resolve the crisis.