STRIKE: We won’t make gunpoint negotiations with ASUU, says FG

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THE Federal Ministry of Education has said it will not enter into agreements with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) under duress.

The ministry called on ASUU to call off its strike “so that we will not have gunpoint negotiations and make promises that we will not be able to fulfill.”

Asuu strike

The ministry’s spokesman, Ben Goong, made this known in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday.

It was also gathered that the National Executive Council of the union, which is currently meeting at the University of Abuja, would announce the final decision on whether to proceed with an indefinite strike or suspend the current industrial action today (Monday).

The National President, ASUU, Emmanuel Osodeke, confirmed that the NEC was indeed meeting, but refused to make further comments.

“The NEC is meeting and details will be communicated,” the ASUU president simply said.

However, a high-ranking source in the NEC told our correspondent that the union would have no choice but to go on a full-blown strike as the government had failed to do anything tangible to meet its demands.

“The government has not done any tangible thing since the announcement of the warning strike. As much as we are not happy about going on strike, I am afraid to say that we have no choice this time. However, the final decision lies with the NEC,” the source said.

However, Goong stated, “The government has done something tangible. If I were ASUU, I would call off the strike and that is what we are telling ASUU to do. Call off the strike so that nobody will be negotiating out of duress. If you continue the strike, we will have agreements at gunpoint with you.

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“If they stay on the strike, in a desperate attempt to make sure that the universities are re-opened, we will make agreements under duress. We are not in a state of war that you must be on strike before you negotiate. You say it is a warning strike and the government has begun the implementation of agreements, it is only normal that you call off your strike, but it is as if they have that mindset of a strike.”

Meanwhile, fresh crises have risen following the declaration by the Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency, Kashifu Inuwa, that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, created by ASUU in place of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System for the payment of university lecturers, has failed an integrity test.

ASUU, in a statement on Sunday, accused Inuwa of deliberately misinforming the public and invited the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, as well as the NITDA boss to a public debate over the integrity of UTAS.

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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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