President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to resolve the ongoing strike action by university lecturers.
The President also directed the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, to hand off negotiations with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Ngige’s role will only be limited to a conciliator when it is necessary.
ASUU had repeatedly accused Ngige of blackmail and being a stumbling block to the negotiations.
The President met with some ministers and heads of Federal Government agencies involved in the negotiations at the Presidential Villa.
He directed that the ongoing negotiation between the Federal Government and ASUU must be finalised within two to three weeks.
He ordered Adamu to henceforth coordinate, lead talks and harmonise terms with ASUU immediately.
Adamu was also mandated to meet with the National Salaries and Wages Commission to work out payment details for the striking lecturers.
ASUU President Prof Emmanuel Osodeke and his predecessor, Dr Nasir Fagge, at a briefing at ASUU National Headquarters in Abuja, said the union was waiting for the signing of the agreement that was reached.
ASUU said it was open to considering the 100 per cent pay rise being proposed by the Federal Government.
The union, however, said the government was yet to reach out to it on the new pay offer.
According to Fagge, the union was waiting for the government to give approval to the Briggs committee to sign the draft deal.
He said: “We have negotiated with a duly mandated committee appointed by the government and we have reached a draft agreement.
“We are waiting for this committee to get the final nod of the Federal Government to sign off this agreement and commence implementation.
“However, the 100 per cent pay rise proposal is not before us.
“If the government has this proposal, it knows the channels through which it will forward it to us and at that point, we will look at it and decide appropriately.
“We started this process in 2017 when there was a problem with the Wale Babalakin Committee.
“The government itself removed him and replaced him with another (Prof Jubril Munzali) committee.
“We reached an agreement, but the government said it had a problem with that agreement.
“They reconstituted the committee again, led by Nimi Briggs, and we have concluded this system.
“All we are waiting for is the final consultation with those that gave the two parties the mandate to negotiate.”
Osodeke said the union would not be stampeded or blackmailed.
He also said the government did not need two weeks to end the strike as President Buhari mandated Adamu to ensure.
Osodeke insisted that the union would call off the strike once the government agreed to sign the re-negotiated 2009 agreement.
He said ASUU would not be blackmailed or be stampeded by lies against it by Ngige.
“They stopped our salaries thinking they will make us go back to work. Let them sit down as directed by the President,” he said.