The Federal Government on Friday apologised to Nigerian parents and students over the prolonged strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
In the early hours of Friday, the union’s leadership suspended the eight-month strike it embarked upon on February 14 due to the government’s failure to meet their demands.
Through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the federal government expressed gratitude to all Nigerians who participated in various negotiations, leading to the calling off of the strike.
In a statement by Olajide Oshundun, the Deputy Director of Press in the Ministry, he assured Nigerians that the federal government is taking steps to ensure that Nigerian students will be saved from the unpalatable experience of intermittent, prolonged industrial actions in the future.
According to the statement, “In a special way, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige expresses gratitude to the Honourable Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the leadership of the House of the House of Representatives.
“We particularly recognize the patriotic efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, the former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev. Supo Ayokunle, all members of Nigeria Inter Religious Council (NIREC) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria whose wisdom and intervention raised a ray of hope while the strike was at infancy but for ASUU’s intransigence to negotiation.
“We were forced to migrate the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) created by the 1999 Constitution as amended, for the settlement of industrial disputes because every channel of negotiation including the tripartite plus, in which eminent Nigerians participated in failed. We were left with no other option than to trigger Section 17 of the Trade Disputes Act .CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 on dispute resolution mechanism in seeking the intervention of the National Industrial Court.
“Now that ASUU has decided to obey the judgement of the National Industrial Court by calling off the devastating action, we apologise to all students and parents, of which the Honorable Minister is one, for this unduly prolonged strike, which is unwarranted ab initio.
“We wish to assure that with the decision, steps and measures being taken by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in holistic repositioning of higher education, a groundwork is being laid, of which we are confident, will save Nigerians, this unpalatable experience of incessant strike in future.
“It is verily our hope that now that the strike has been called off, the National Industrial Court will deal with the substantive issues as contained in the referral letter by the Honourable Minister. This is to ensure that justice is given to all parties including ASUU and their employers- the Federal Ministry of Education who acts on behalf of the Federal Government.”
The statement further revealed that the Ministry of Labour and Employment would persist in cooperating with both parties in seeking amicable solutions to other issues not placed before the industrial court in finding lasting solutions to the university system’s instability.
“We certainly can’t be less grateful to the judiciary for deepening our labour jurisprudence in upholding the essence of the 3rdalteration of the 1999 Constitution , especially as it relates to Sections 243 and 254A,” the statement added.