The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says it has reached concrete proposals with the Federal Government on the ongoing warning strike embarked upon by the union.
Mr Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President, said this in Abuja while addressing newsmen at the end of a closed door reconciliatory meeting at the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The meeting, which began by 3 p.m, ended about 11 p.m on Tuesday.
It would be recalled that ASUU began the warning strike on March 9, 2020 after disagreement with the Federal Government over issues of revitalization of universities, earned academic allowance.
Others are visitation panel, mainstreaming and most importantly Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) always and other issues relating to university funding.
Ogunyemi said that no pronouncement would be made until after presenting the new government proposals to members of the union.
According to Ogunyemi, “we had some fruitful discussions, we have improved on where we were last time, we have what we can call concrete proposals and we have what we can take back to our members.
“But as we usually say, those of us here cannot give the final pronouncements on any of the proposals and we have assured the government that we will report faithfully to our principals and get back to government accordingly.
“We want to assure all Nigerians that we are concerned on going back to our work like every other person, because we know that is where we find happiness, we are not happy outside our classrooms, our laboratories and our libraries.
” So, in view of this, we will do our best to ensure that all concerns have the maximum benefits from this action because it is of national interest.
“If academics do not defend the universities, who will defend the academics?” he asked.
Also speaking, Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said both parties had fruitful deliberations on contentious issues, especially the issue of IPPIS.
He said, “The meeting was longer than anticipated because we had to look at all the issues that were in our 2019 Memorandum of Actions, especially those that had not been fully addressed. We made new proposal on behalf of FG to ASUU.
“These issues range from funding, revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, salary shortfalls in Federal University of Akure and the issue of state universities.
“We also addressed payment of earned academic allowances to University of Ilorin.
“On the Nigerian University Pension Commission, certificate was issued last year but operational certificate had not been issued because we do not have a permanent PENCOM board in place.
“We have made proposal on how NUPENCO board will be able to fulfill its obligation, especially in terms of preparation of annual audit reports.
“Issue of visitation panel to the universities has been on the table since last year. The Government side made progress and that approval has been gotten, and we are waiting for the gazette of the membership of the visitation panel. ”
The minister noted that the Issue of IPPIS was also discussed and options and solutions were advanced.
He said that the government had a proposal, which had been given to ASUU.
According to him, ASUU will take the issues that are outstanding back to its National Executive Council for members to be on the same page before they get back to the government.
“We have agreed on a tentative date to get back to government before the weekend runs out. We expect ASUU to write the government before then to see if there will be need for further meeting,” he added.
Those also present at the meeting were Minister of State, Labour and Employment Mr, Festus Keyamo (SAN), Executive Secretary of the National University Commission.
Others are Minister of State for Education, Accountant General of the Federation, Permanent Secretaries in the ministries of labour and that of education.