The new committee to negotiate with ASUU and other university unions is headed by an emeritus professor.
As part of efforts to end the eight-month-old strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the federal government has reconstituted its team to renegotiate the 2009 agreements with lecturers, others.
Before reconstituting the 2009 committee, which is one of the demands of the striking university lecturers, the former committee was headed by the former pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos ( UNILAG), Wale Babalakin.
Other demands of the lecturers include providing funding for the revitalization of universities, earned allowance, the constitution of visitation panels, payment of shortfall in salaries of lecturers, and a stop to the use of the payment platform, IPPIS, for payment of the salaries and allowances of lecturers.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Babalakin resigned his position as the head of the government’s negotiation team, saying “he will no longer be available for the role he had been playing since 2017 without a headway.”
On Wednesday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, while inaugurating the committee in Abuja, said public universities will resume activities like their private counterpart soon.
According to Mr Adamu, the committee is expected to re-negotiate the 2009 agreement between the federal government and the university-based unions.
The federal government team is categorised into substantive members, advisers and observers. The team is headed by an emeritus professor, Munzali Jibril.
Other members of the committee are the Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Nimota Akanbi; Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, Nimi Briggs; Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Wukari, Lawrence Ngbale; Pro-Chancellor, FUT, Minna, Femi Odekunle; Pro-Chancellor, University of Calabar, Nkechi Nworgu,
They also include Pro-Chancellor, Kaduna State University Shehu Abdullahi and Pro-Chancellor, Kebbi State University, Mamman Magoro.
Among the advisers are, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC); Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities
(CVC); Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of State-owned Universities; Chairman, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Secretary, Association of Registrars of Nigerian Universities (ARNU); Chairman, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU), and Secretary, Association of Bursars of Nigerian Universities (ABNU).
The minister said the observer category is composed of representatives from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Planning, Federal Ministry of Justice, Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, and Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
The minister said the present administration is committed to finding
lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the university sub-sector.
He said the team is expected to take another look at the 2009 Agreements reached with the university-based unions and work with each union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system.
“It has also become necessary and urgent that all hands must now be on deck to restore the confidence reposed in university education by students, parents and the general public,” Mr Adamu said.
“As you are quite aware, the federal government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months, have been neck-deep in several meetings with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities.”
He said the government is determined to, within available resources, provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian universities.
“Government, like other stakeholders, is also worried about the vicious cycle
over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other
The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious
man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action,” he said.
He said all these have impacted negatively on students’ learning outcomes and the reputation of the Nigerian brand, which hitherto was the pride of the nation.
The minister said the committee has been carefully selected in recognition of their records in university management and academic leadership.
“The terms of reference of the team are to re-negotiate the residual issues in the 2009 Agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the university-based unions, towards a workable and implementable agreement between both parties, such that will facilitate repositioning of Nigerian universities for greater responsibilities in national development,” he said.
He said the terms of reference also include “Propose and prescribe short, medium and long-term measures for the
sustainable funding and management of federal universities, in order to
restore lasting peace, stability, harmony and progress in the Nigerian
university system; and make any other recommendations.”
In his remark, the chairman of the committee, Munzali Jibril, thanked the government for considering them worthy of the task. He said the committee will commence work promptly with the aim of producing a good result within a short time.
The meeting had in attendance representatives of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), led by the president, Biodun Ogunyemi, and other stakeholders.
ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike on March 23. Apart from its demands listed earlier, the union also proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as a replacement for the controversial IPPIS.
PREMIUM TIMES also reported how the government made improved proposals to the union which ASUU said it would take to its members for consideration.
In the latest government proposals, made two weeks ago, the government offered N65 billion for the payment of earned allowances and the revitalisation of universities. The government also agreed to suspend the use of the IPPIS in paying the backlog of salaries and allowances owed the lecturers which the government said would be paid before the end of the year.