5th November, 2013
After meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Monday, for about 13 hours, the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities said they would now go and brief their members on the details of the discussions.
Dr. Nasir Fagge, chairman of the striking union told reporters early Tuesday at State House that the leaders would take the president’s message back to their members.
Fagge, who wore broad smiles after emerging from the meeting venue at about 3.35 a.m did not say what the message was when he spoke with the correspondents.
“We have had lengthy meeting with Mr. President, rubbing minds on how best to address the problem of university education in this country. We now have a message from Mr. President that we are going to take to our members and we are expecting that our members will respond appropriately to the message of Mr. President.”
He declined to disclose the message he would be taking to the members or whether the ASUU will be ready to call off the strike.
The Labour Minister, Emeka Wogu, who also spoke with the press, just said what was discussed did not go beyond the 2009 agreement.
Wogu said that the meeting ended positively and the message of the President to ASUU “is full of hope and high expectations.
“The message is full of hope and expectations and our prayer is that they come back with positive response.
“They might not even come back to meet us; they might even take decisions there that will meet your expectations.”
Wogu noted that the offer made by the president was in line with the 2009 agreement reached with the union.
“The offer is within the issues that led to the strike; the issues contained in the 2009 agreement and we did not go beyond the agreement,” he said.
He appealed to Nigerians to be patient with ASUU and gave an assurance that the outcome of the meeting would be positive.
The meeting with the President had begun at about 2.40pm on Monday, after ASUU had also met with the President of the Senate, Senator David Mark.
It was the first meeting between the union and President Jonathan since the strike began 1 July, shutting down almost all state and Federal government owned universities in Nigeria.
The Federal Government had initially offered the striking teachers N30billion to pay for allowances piled up since government and the union hammered out an agreement in 2009. Government also offered N100billion to pay for improvements of facilities in the universities and later increased this to N200billion on a yearly basis.
ASUU rejected the offer as too small and insisted on government implementing in full the 2009 agreement.
The negotiation with the president’s team reportedly went on a short break at about 6.30 p.m.
The meeting started in the afternoon, at about 2:40 pm inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
On the President’s negotiating team were the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, who had held a deadlocked meeting with ASUU in the past, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike; and Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu among others.
The ASUU team was led by its Chairman, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge, Prof. Abdulahi Sule-Kano, Prof. Dipo Fashina and Prof. Festus Iyayi, Prof. Suleiman Abdul, and Prof. Abdullahi Sule-Kano.
Also at the meeting were the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Abdulawahid Omar and that of the Trade Union Congress, Bobboi Kaigama.
In banters with the ASUU team before the marathon meeting, President Jonathan while shaking hands with Fagge said:
“My president, I hope it will end today. Our children have suffered enough. We must find a solution.”
All those in attendance responded with a loud “amen.”
Jonathan also expressed similar optimism when he greeted the NLC president:
“My president with you around today, there will be no problem, our agreement is signed, sealed and delivered.”