President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, has said the union is wiling to end its seven-month old strike.
Osodeke, however, said this could only be achieved if concrete agreements are reached with the Federal Government. He gave the assurance in Abuja, yesterday, at a National Town Hall Meeting on Tertiary Education tagged: ‘The Locked Gates of our Citadels -A National Emergency.’
Recall that the union embarked on industrial action on February 14, making it over seven months since public universities across the country were closed down.
The Federal Government recently sued ASUU at the industrial court in an attempt to end the strike. Osodeke said: “On all these issues, we have given the government a minimum that we can accept, but they have not responded on the issue of revitalisation, on the issue of earned allowance and on issues that we have all discussed.
“We negotiated and agreed that they should sign, and this is very simple, not more than one day. On UTAS and IPPIS, we said release the report of the test you did and let’s look at the one that came first and take it as we agreed. So, we have given them the minimum we want and we have to come down, and they can do it in one day if there is a will.”
Osodeke reiterated the union’s commitment to return to school if the Federal Government puts its proposal on the table, saying negotiation could be reached if the government is willing.
He said: “If the government loves this country, these children and their parents, then they should come to the table and let us resolve these issues in one day. Just as we did in 2014, they should come and ensure that we do that. We can even have the meeting openly, so that Nigerians will see what we are discussing.”
The ASUU president expressed sadness over the lingering strike, which resulted in the government taking the union to court. He said suing the union was not an option, as it would further worsen the situation of students and tertiary education in the country.
He said if the court forces the lecturers to return to school, they won’t force them to teach with open minds, adding that students would definitely be at the receiving end.
Osodeke commended the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors for stepping in to resolve the issues. He urged parents and students to appeal to the government to do the needful, so that the strike would come to an end, once and for all, rather than attacking the union.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Vivian Bello, Convener, Save Public Education Campaign, a non-governmental organisation, has 7pleaded with both parties to resolve the issues.
She said students are not the only people feeling the negative impact, but also the union.
Bello said it behooves both sides to bring the crisis to a perpetual end for the sake of students and development of education in the country.
She added: “We are going to play our traditional role, which is the role of monitor. We are going to keep very strong searchlight on the two actors, to see that this issue of back and forth is quickly brought to an end, and the strike will be called-off.”