by Paul Osas
The much anticipated meeting between the Federal Government and the leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), held yesterday at the presidential villa with bright signals to a possible end to the union’s four months old strike. The meeting followed an earlier meeting which also held yesterday between senate president, David Mark and the ASUU leaders.
Rising from the over 13 hours long meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan, ASUU president Nasir Fagge noted that the meeting discussed how best to solve Nigeria’s university education challenges.
“Well we have had a lengthy meeting with Mr. President, rubbing minds on how best to address the problem of University education in this country,” he said to state house correspondents after the meeting.
Giving slight hope to university students across the country, Fagge said, “And we now have a message from Mr. President 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 however insisted that the end to the strike is dependent on his members’ appropriate response saying “That is up to our members.” Fagge declined to reveal the details of the message. “I can’t tell you. Its not for you. It is for our members.” When asked if he was impressed with the message, he said: “Don’t put words into my mouth. Our members will determine that.”
On the part of the FG, speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Labour Emeka Wogu said: “We made progress, the President of ASUU told you that they are going back with a message from the Federal Government back to their members. And the message is full of high expectations and hope.”
On whether the meeting will have an immediate impact he said: “That is why the message is full of high expectations and hope. So our prayers is that they come back with positive outcome. They might not even come back to meet us, they might take decisions there that will meet your expectations.
“Nigerians should be patient for ASUU to finish their meetings and come out with a message to Nigerians.”
Wogu however clarified that no new offer was made saying that: “Well, the offer we made are the offers they are taking in line with the 2009 agreement. The issues that led to the strike are issues contained in the 2009 agreement and we did not go beyond the agreement.”
The President was joined at the meeting that started at 2.40pm on Monday by Vice President Namadi Sambo; Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike; and Wogu among others.
Faggae led the union team which included past presidents such as Prof. Abdulahi Sule-Kano, Prof. Dipo Fashina and Prof. Festus Iyayi.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Abdulawahid Omar and that of the Trade. Union Congress, Bobboi Kaigama, also attended.
Other members of the delegation were Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, Prof. Victor Osodeke, Prof. Suleiman Abdul, Dr. Victor Igbum and Mr. Michael Odunmoraye.