Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
Attempts by the Senate to stop the warning strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which started on Wednesday (yesterday), has failed.
Senate President Bukola Saraki presided over a three-hour closed-door meeting with the officials of the union.
Saraki did not, however, speak with journalists after the crucial meeting.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Senator Jibrin Barau, who addressed journalists, said the Senate could not stop the warning strike.
He, however, said its intervention would prevent the strike from transforming to an indefinite action.
Barau added that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had been asked to attend a meeting of a committee comprising officials of ASUU and the ministries of education and labour on Thursday.
The meeting on Wednesday was also attended by the officials of the Ministry of Education as well as representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who was absent at the meeting, was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka.
Barau said the lawmakers had a “fruitful deliberation” with the striking lecturers, adding that “a way forward has been found” and that “the issues will soon be resolved.”
He admitted that the warning strike would continue while the Senate worked towards preventing the lecturers from embarking on a total strike.
The senator announced that a sub-committee, made up of representatives of all the stakeholders had been set up while the panel would continue with the roundtable discussions on Thursday.
He said what the Senate had done was to create a template for dialogue, describing an end to the crisis as “a work in progress.”
Barau said, “We have had a fruitful deliberation and a way forward has been found by creating a sub-committee of this committee to sit and find out certain things in the Ministry of Finance, which will bring us closer to the resolution of this problem.
“We will start sitting tomorrow (Thursday), including the Minister of Finance (Kemi Adeosun), who has not been able to attend this meeting but we are sure she will be here tomorrow and the Director-General of the Budget Office.
“We have created a template on how to resolve this problem. And you know ASUU is a democratic body, they have to consult. So, it’s ongoing; it’s a work in progress and a very important headway has been created. A good template has been created and we see light at the end of the tunnel.”
The National President of ASUU, Abiodun Ogunyemi, who earlier declined to speak on the outcome of the meeting, later thanked the Senate for its intervention.
He said, “We have discussed and our union will work with him (Saraki). We will do all possible, with the approval of our membership, to get the matter resolved as soon as possible.”
The Senate had, on Tuesday, expressed its resolve to intervene in the face-off between the Federal Government and ASUU.
The lawmakers had specifically asked to intervene in the matter and prevent ASUU from embarking on the one-week warning strike.
The lawmakers, during the plenary on Tuesday, urged the two parties to embrace dialogue.
A document containing the demands of ASUU, which was obtained from one of its executive members after the meeting, indicated that demands bothered on the implementation of the 2009 agreement and the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the Federal Government.
Under the ‘Payment of fractions of staff entitlements’, ASUU said, “The 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement Implementation Committee had submitted a report of the outstanding balance of N65, 833, 047,372.24 (2009-2013) plus N62,417‚645‚224.23 (2014-2016), amounting to an unpaid balance of N128‚250‚692‚596.47. This was in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Government and ASUU, while resolving the crisis of June-November, 2013.
“ASUU stated that the initial N30bn paid university staff as part of EAA (earned allowance) in 2013 was given to the governing councils, not the union, as presented by the ministry. The union also corrected the impression that the record of the balance of the EAA had not been submitted by the lMC. The minister subsequently directed the Director of Tertiary Institutions to expeditiously address the matter to enable him to follow up on the matter.” (Punchng.com)