By Temitope Mustapha, Abuja
The Nigerian government has resumed talks with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to address issues of funding , infrastructure development and other matters contained in the 2009 agreement between them. Federal government and the two.
Renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities resumed in Abuja, after months of break caused by the three month industrial action by ASUU.
The Chairman, Nigerian Government Re-negotiation Team, Dr. Wale Babalakin SAN, who briefed Journalists after long hours of meeting, said the Parties had a positive discussion and were about to finalise the negotiation.
Babalakin said that “ASUU submitted a timetable with over 20 issues and the issues would all be looked into.”
He noted that the memorandum that signed between the Government and ASUU, which ended the three months old strike in February, was part of the document submitted by ASUU for deliberation.
“We resumed renegotiation meeting on Tuesday after a brief break caused by the protracted ASUU strike and all parties were represented. We had positive discussion and we hope that it will continue till the end of the renegotiation.
“Both parties made contributions and suggestions, and we are determined to end the back and forth discussions through solutions that would herald academic and infrastructure development in the universities,” Babalakin added.
He said that Government and ASUU would sign an implementable agreement within the fastest possible time so that peace and development can be restored in the institutions.
Speaking on negotiations specifically, Mr Babalakin said ,”In a negotiation, you have to seek the consent of the other party before you make such disclosures. But at the stage of signing an agreement we will be willing to tell you all the headlines and all the important issues.”
On the period when negotiations will be concluded he said , “we started on Wednesday morning at 10 am (local time) and we have just finished. Both sides are determined to put an end to this. I reckon that this will end within the fastest possible time”
“We had an interlude and that interlude is over and we are now back to where we left it when we had the interlude. So, it is a continuous negotiation for the betterment of the education system,” he stressed.
One of the contentious issues is the Needs Assessment Intervention Fund, which the then administration of President Goodluck Jonathan committed to inject about N1.3 trillion over the period of 5 five years.
It would be recalled that the sum of N20 billion has been remitted to the designated account by the current administration.
President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, in February while announcing the suspension of the 3months strike, said that in addition to the N20 billion for 2018, the sum of N25 billion only would be released in April/May 2019, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013.
“Part-payment of the outstanding arrears of the earned acedemic allowances; defraying the balance up to 2018 in 4 tranches within 36 months; and mainstreaming further payments of EAA into the annual budgets beginning from 2019 budget“.