By Francis Ogwo
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has stated that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is expected to call off its strike action in January 2021.
Ngige made the disclosure on Monday during the launch of Ngige’s free medical outreach at the Community’s Health Center while stating that negotiations between ASUU and the Federal Government, which Ngige said had reached 98%.
Ngige said: “We have met about 98 percent of the request of ASUU. Some 5 to 2 percent is what you can call promissory notes. So, I am very hopeful that by midnight today, there are some works we are supposed to get on to do. They also have some work they are supposed to do on their own side with their people.
“Tuesday, we will meet in the afternoon and we will compare notes. We will put everything on the table and compare. I believe that we might have come to the end of the strike when we meet tomorrow. Well, it is a journey of a thousand miles which you will have to take one step first. Tomorrow, all things being equal, we will agree now to agree because we were disagreeing before.
“We disagree to agree and agree to disagree formerly. But tomorrow, I hope we will agree to agree. Once we do that, schools will reopen in January.”
Recall that ASUU had gone on strike since March 2020 owing to a dispute with the Federal Government over the funding of the universities and the implementation of the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS), which they opposed.
Following several months of negotiations without a truce, there was a final agreement after the Federal Government pledged to increase its offer for Earned Allowances and funding for the revitalization of public universities from N65 billion to N70 billion, and also the payment of their withheld salaries would not be done through the IPPIS.
The Federal Government however had accused ASUU of refusing to reciprocate its gesture, after the union refused to call off its strike action, insisting that the government must pay all outstanding salaries and allowances before they would go back to classes.