The meeting between striking university lecturers’ under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and federal legislators was deadlocked on Monday, as it ended without the parties reaching any compromise.
The meeting at the National Assembly Complex, which was at the instance of the chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Uche Chukwumerije (PDP Abia North), was called to pacify the striking lecturers with a bid to finding a common ground.
At the meeting, ASUU insisted that the Federal Government should implement the agreements reached in 2009 before it would call off its strike.
Some of the issues in contention include: funding, university autonomy, academic freedom, earned academic allowance and registration of Universities Pension Management Company.
Others are: amendment of pension retirement age of academics at the professional cadre, federal assistance to state universities and transfer of Federal Government landed property to universities.
ASUU President, Nasir Fagge, told the committee that only two out of the nine agreements had been met.
“We cannot renegotiate what was already agreed in 2009, so the best thing is, let government go and implement the aspects of the agreement as they have proposed to us themselves.
“Once that is done, I am confident that it will engender confidence among our members and our members nationwide will be able to review the situation at any moment and take appropriate decision.’’
Mr Fagge expressed worry that the Federal Government was not fair in its dealing with the association.
He decried the situation whereby funds were being pumped into other sectors such as banking, aviation and textile industry that had challenges, yet education was continuously neglected.
“If we really want to turn around the country, we must address the issue of education because it is the bedrock of development,” he said.
“I believe that one of the ways of addressing some of these issues is for government to implement the 2009 agreement as this will place education on a sound footing.’’
He noted that Nigerian students and lecturers were continuously leaving the country to neighbouring countries in search of better education and teaching conditions.
Speaking on the issue, the Minister of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufai, told the committee that the Federal Government was working tirelessly to ensure that it met its own side of the agreement.
Mrs. Rufai said the implementation of the agreement was not something that could be completed within a short period as it required a very long and tedious process.
“Two of the issues have been implemented up to 100 percent and the other issues too, progress has been made as there has been an increase in funding.’’
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Julius Okogie, told the committee that the tuition paid in universities in Nigeria was very low compared to other countries.
He appealed to ASUU to call off the strike since negotiations were already on.
Some members of the committee including Senator Oluremi Tinubu (ACN-Lagos) and Rep. Farouk Lawan (PDP-Kano), also appealed to ASUU to soften its stand and call off the strike in the interest of the students.
The committee later went into a closed session with the stakeholders, but there are no indications that an agreement was reached.