The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Wednesday admitted that the Federal Government (FG) failed to meet its part of the agreement reached with the Academic Staff Union of Universities last year, which led to the ongoing industrial action called by the union.
He, however, said the government was not happy that ASUU embarked on the strike without following due process by giving an adequate notice.
Adamu spoke with State House correspondents after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister said government had realised that it made some promises to the union which it had yet to fulfil.
He said he would be meeting with leaders of the union later on Wednesday or on Thursday.
He expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached at the meeting and the strike would be called off.
The minister said, “It is very sad that I am here and ASUU is on strike. Late last year, we had a meeting because ASUU gave one week notice of strike and we were able to work out an agreement.
I must confess that the government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain. Though we are unhappy that ASUU went on this strike without following due process by giving us notice, we realised that we promised something and we didn’t fulfil it.
“I hope I will be meeting them later today (Wednesday) or tomorrow (Thursday) and I am sure we will be able to reach an agreement so that the strike will be called off as soon as possible.
“I am sure you are aware of the issues. There is the issue of re-negotiation and we set up a re-negotiation team; negotiation is ongoing.
“There is the issue of Earned Allowances and I think because of some communication gaps, what we promised could not be done; but I am assuring ASUU and the nation that this is going to be done.
“There is the issue of registration for Nigerian Universities Pension Commission. I think there are a few issues that need to be sorted out with the Nigerian Pension Commission. There will be no problem.
“On the issue of their staff school, the court has given them verdict to go ahead with it. They have requested that they should be allowed to stay off TSA and I think the government will not do this.
I hope later on when I meet them today, there will be a total agreement.”
The minister said he still stood by a position he took before being appointed a minister in which he described ASUU’s strike as a necessary tool to pressure the government to do the right thing.
He had said if ASUU had not forced former President Goodluck Jonathan, he would not have created the Tertiary Education TrustFund “without which the university system would have collapsed.”
The minister said, “That is still my view. I believe ASUU is composed of patriotic and very responsible people.
“If I can look at what their struggle is, they forced the then government to create TETFund and today, without TETFund, the university system would have collapsed.
“I am not supporting ASUU but I am supporting what is good. If it is something bad, I will condemn it.”
Strike not influenced by politics –ASUU
ASUU on Wednesday said its decision to embark on strike was not influenced by any political reason.
The Chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Dr Deji Omole, said there was nothing political in asking for full implementation of a nine-year old agreement and four-year old Memorandum of Understanding it had with the Federal Government.
While reacting to the comments made by a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson Agbonayinma, ASUU said the lawmaker had displayed shallow knowledge about the situation of education in the country.
The UI ASUU chairman said, “Agbonayinma should guide his utterances and limit his talks to his limited understanding of education. Nigerian leaders should demonstrate the love they have for Nigeria by withdrawing their children in private universities both in Nigeria and abroad and stop health tourism by using the health facilities they provide for Nigerians.
“As members of intellectual community, we are surprised that the Chairman of the Federal Government negotiation team was losing sight of realities that there is a difference between implementation of agreement already signed and renegotiation of the agreement.”
Omole added that the union would not allow the FG to mortgage Nigeria’s public education, saying that the political class had been selfish and self-serving.