The two weeks ultimatum given to the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, by President Muhammadu Buhari to end the five months old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is way too much, the union has said.
It believes two days will do the magic, according to its President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke.
On Channels Television on Tuesday night, Osodeke said, “Two weeks is too long. The issue of renegotiation has been completed by both sides. Just come back to us and say ‘we have agreed’, that will not take two days. We were told they spent billions to feed children in school; is that correct, how many children have you seen being fed?
“Nigerians spend not less than N200 billion as school fees paid to Ghanaian universities every year. Government should prioritise education as number one in the country because all of us must pass through the school.”
Osodeke commended the presidential intervention, but appeared unenamoured by it, because it is not a new thing
He recalled the intervention of religious leaders in the crisis under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) who met with the President over the matter.
Following the meeting in February, he explained that President Buhari set up a three-man committee comprising his Chief of Staff, Ngige, and Adamu, to quickly resolve the issue within one month.
“That committee didn’t invite us for a meeting until we rolled over the strike in May and we all went. Now another 12 days? If we are serious, if we really want to resolve this problem, it will not take two days.
“All issues have been discussed, government representatives have met with ASUU, and there is a draft joint agreement to look at and come back for the signature. Does it take you two weeks to look at what you have negotiated?” he asked.
Earlier in the day, President Buhari directed the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to resolve the prolonged strike embarked upon by the four university-based unions and report back to him within two weeks.
After receiving briefings at the State House, Abuja, from relevant government Ministries, Agencies and Departments (MDAs) involved in resolving the face-off with the university unions, President Buhari was said to have also directed that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, must attend all the meetings to be called to resolve the crisis.
Amongst attendees at the meeting were Adamu; Ngige; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami; Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folashade Yemi-Esan; the Chairman of National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta; and the Director-General Budget Office, Ben Akabueze.