|President Jonathan exchanging pleasantries with the ASUU leaders at the last meeting|
Hope that the five months old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU may be called off anytime from now brightens on Wednesday with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the University teachers and a Federal government team led by Nyesom Wike, the Supervising Minister for Education.
The MoU was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr MacJohn Nwaobila, on behalf of the federal government while ASUU President, Nasir Fagge Isa, signed on behalf of the Union.
The event was witnessed by the Nigeria Labour Congress, President, Abdulwaheed Umar and five Vice Chancellors as well as the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Julius Okojie and the former Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Prof Mamohood Yakubu.
The President of ASUU told journalists that the union would consult with its National Executive Council and will within one week let Nigerians know its decision on the ongoing national strike. He however said he is optimistic that the outcome of the consultation will be positive.
Dr Isa said the agreement captured the main areas of the union’s demand, especially the deposit of N200 billion in a dedicated account to Central Bank of Nigeria, the non-victimisation clause among others.
“All contending issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties, we are partners in progress and there is no victor no vanquished as our struggle is in the interest of the country,” the Minister of Education told journalists.
The minister however expressed the government appreciation to all stakeholders that contributed to the resolution of the crises.
He recalled that Nigerians had expected ASUU to call off its national strike following the November 4 marathon meeting with the President.
“Today, I’m very pleased to announce that all contending issues between the Federal Government and ASUU have been resolved to satisfaction of the parties.
“Let me emphasize that we recognize and appreciate ASUU’s patriotic role and commitment toward ensuring that our universities are well-funded, resourced and run like their counterparts in the world, thus we are all partners in progress and there was no victor no vanquished in the struggle of this nature so as long as our goals remain noble, not accentuated by parochial interest and targeted at moving our nation forward,” the Minister concluded.
ASUU members have been on strike since last July demanding full implementation of the 2009 agreement reached with the Federal Government.
After a 13 hour meeting attended by President Jonathan early last month at Aso Rock presidential villa, the Union and the Federal Government agreed on terms of calling of the strike, principal among which is the provision of N200 billion intervention fund for the funding of infrastructure development in the Universities.
Though the Federal Government had insisted that it had deposited the N200 billion into an account at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, ASUU had insisted on tangible evidence that the money is available before it will call off the strike.
The Union also insisted that an agreement must be signed to concretise all issues agreed on at the marathon meeting with the President.
Government has threatened to sack lecturers who failed to return to work last Monday. But the threat order was widely ignored by the university teachers who stuck to their demands.
However,the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, on Tuesday told journalists that government has deposited the contentious N200 billion in a Special Universities Revitalization Account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Government also backed down on its threat of mass sack of the University teachers.