Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, has expressed surprise that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Ministry of Education have yet to resolve their dispute, which has resulted in the union’s current strike.
This was mentioned by Ngige during the resumption of the conciliation meeting with the union on Tuesday.
He expressed surprise that ASUU had reneged on the agreement and guarantees it had given to the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), which is led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the Chairman of CAN, Rev. Supo Ayokunle.
The minister, who said he was in Botswana for the meeting of the African Regional Labour Administrative Centre (ARLAC) when ASUU declared the strike, stated that the government was taken aback by the renewed strike by the university lecturers, which started on February 14, 2022.
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He said, “I sincerely thought ASUU and the Ministry of Education would have resolved the issues, which, hopefully, are not major areas of dispute, warranting industrial action. To my surprise, I came back, and the strike is still on. Be that as it may, it is the mandate of my ministry to apprehend industrial disputes wherever they occur and we have apprehended this.
“From this negotiation we are having today, ASUU will appreciate that government means no harm. This is because even if there are still lapses in the implementation of the agreement, they are not such that will lead to industrial action. To that extent, we have to do everything possible to resolve this.”
Ngige continued, “But I must tell you that on the government side, they were taken by surprise in that before then, NIREC met with you (ASUU) and reported to the President. Having met with you (ASUU) and having given the details of their meeting with you, we sincerely hoped we won’t again take this route of industrial action.
“So, the government side is taken by surprise – Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance and all are taken aback.”