Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has restated the commitment of Federal Government to end the eight-month strike embarked on by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
He described as untrue, comments that government officials have been foot-draggers in the ongoing negotiations with the university lecturers because their children school abroad.
Ngige said, “I have three biological children in public schools. They are in public schools; they are not in private universities. Unlike ASUU members who have most of their children in private universities, three of mine are here. So, I am a very big stakeholder in the public tertiary school system.”
The minister, who spoke on an Arise TV interview monitored by The PUNCH, added, “So, when ASUU says politicians don’t care because they have taken their children abroad, Chris Ngige cares because my children are not abroad even though they have dual nationality – two of them have American citizenship; they can be in America but I choose them to be here with me.
“So, ASUU cannot accuse me of not being nationalistic enough. Anything that will help the university system here, I am in the forefront.”
The PUNCH had reported last Friday that the Federal Government accepted the demand by ASUU that the lecturers be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The government also offered to increase the Earned Allowances to university staff from N30 billion to N35b and the Revitalisation Fund from N20b to N25b.
The development came after weeks of negotiations and disagreements by the FG and ASUU, which proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution as its preferred payment platform.
Reading out the communique at the end of a seven-hour negotiation with ASUU members in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had said the government also agreed to ASUU’s demand to pay their members’ salary arrears from February to June through the old salary payment platform, Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System.
Speaking further, Ngige expressed optimism that the lecturers will accept the new offer by the government. He urged ASUU to hasten consultations with its members so as to return to the negotiation table and conclude talks before Friday.
The breakthrough in negotiations is expected to end the eight-month strike embarked on by the university lecturers as parents and students wait on ASUU to call off the strike.