by Dare Lawal
After Monday’s 13-hour marathon meeting between a federal government team led by President Goodluck Jonathan and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) team led by the chairman, Nasir Fagge, the union leader told pressmen that they received “a new message” from the federal government which he would convey to members of the union and give a response accordingly.
Following that meeting, ASUU has reportedly begun consultations with its members on whether to accept the new offer or not.
This new offer according to reports is a yearly payment of N220 billion over the next five years made by the federal government, in furtherance of the implementation of the 2009 Agreement. It falls short of the N350 billion for 2014 and N400 billion annually over the next four years which ASUU has been insisting on. However, there are feelers that the union is likely to accept the new offer.
President Jonathan reportedly pleaded with ASUU to be reasonable in its demands so that the universities could be reopened. He also appealed to ASUU’s representatives at the meeting to take its offer to its members and gave them one week to meet and arrive at a conclusion.
The N220 billion is expected to be used for the universities’ infrastructure needs and lecturers’ earned allowances as stipulated under the 2009 Agreement.
The NLC acting general secretary, Chris Uyot, who spoke to national newspaper had this to say about the agreement: “We held a meeting with the president and ASUU. Yes, there was an offer, the offer was okay and acceptable to the NLC but it depends on ASUU on whether they can accept it. When you have an offer in a situation of this nature, you need to put them before your members who gave you the mandate; you have to get back to them before taking a decision,” he said.
And all across the nation, the fingers of thousands of students are crossed.