”The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have continued trade words on when lecturers should end their strike and return to the classroom.
Whereas the Presidency has claimed that all ASUU demands had been met and given the union an ultimatum to return to the classroom on Monday, ASUU has stuck to its guns and maintained that due process must been followed before ending the strike.
Dr Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, said the Central Bank of Nigeria had opened a N200 billion Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure Account (RUIA), which was one of the conditions ASUU for ending the strike.
Dr Okupe said the CBN confirmed the opening of the account on receipt of authorization from the office of the Accountant General. But Dr Okupe did not say whether ASUU’s demand that salaries withheld from lecturers since the duration of the strike – five months – be paid.
“On the 13th of November 2013, the office of the Account General of the Federation authorized the Banking and Payment System Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria via a letter with reference number FD/OA/220/ADC/GF/1/4DF to open a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructural Account with the CBN,” Okupe said.
“I state categorically that I have personally seen the balance in the account as of today and confirm that it contains the requisite amount and disbursement will commence as soon as ongoing administration processes are sorted out,” he added.
Dr Okupe claimed that all ASUU’s conditions had been met and there was no more reason to continue the strike.
However, ASUU’s President Dr Nasir Isa Faggie said the union would not be negotiating with Government on the pages of newspapers or anywhere in the media.
He advised the Federal Government to follow due process and write formally to ASUU informing it about the N200 billion revitalization fund.
Faggie said the letter should also contain Government’s response to the remaining three of the four conditions given by the union.
“Informing the media when an official letter had not been written to ASUU is a wasted effort. Government should write ASUU officially informing the union of the deposited N200 billion. We are not fools; Government should be able to follow due process. We do not want to leave anything to chances,” he said.
ASUU’s demands include: renegotiation of the 2009 agreement in 2014, the inclusion in the final document of a non-victimization clause, and the endorsement of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOD), signed by the representatives of government, preferably the Attorney General and that of ASUU, with the president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) as a witness.