The federal government has reacted to threats by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to embark on nationwide strike.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Wednesday, stated that the Federal Government would look into the issues raised by ASUU.
The minister also said most of the union’s grievances were domiciled in the ministries of Education and Communications and Digital Economy.
Ngige stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja.
ASUU had issued several threats of an indefinite strike over what the union tagged the failure of the Federal Government to honour some of the agreements it signed with it in the past.
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In 2020, ASUU went on a nine-month strike, which was called off in December of that year.
In 2021, the union issued fresh threats and gave the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum to address its grievances. The union later shelved the move following the payment of N22.1bn earned allowances and the release of N30bn revitalisation fund to the universities.
Some members of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council, led by the co-chairmen, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar III, and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr Samson Ayokunle, visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the failure to implement the Memorandum of Understanding the government signed with ASUU in 2009 and other agreements.
At the meeting, Buhari said the government remained committed to fulfilling the promises made to the union.
Despite this, ASUU issued directives to its chapters and encouraged members to continue mobilising for the impending strike.
Ngige, however, told Punch, “The truth is that ASUU’s grievances are with the NUC, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. The issues are the deployment of their UTAS and the White Paper report on the universities.
“You know that we at the Ministry of Labour are not their employer; the Education ministry is their employer. Our job here is to act as reconciliatory officers.
“The President has mandated his Chief of Staff and the Minister of Education as well as the Ministry of Labour to step in, but my job is to step in as the reconciliatory officer if both sides refuse to settle their grievances. We will surely look into the matter.”