The striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Nigerian Federal Government has signed the long-awaited Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signalling an end to the resolution of the over five-month-old strike.
The MoU was signed in the presence of leaders of the central labour union, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), five university Vice Councillors, the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), which regulates the running of all universities, and former head of the education funding agency, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
Though details of the MoU was not immediately available, ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge Isa, told journalists that the agreement captured the main arrears of the union’s demand, including the deposit of the 200 billion Naira in a dedicated account in the nation’s Central Bank of Nigeria, agreement on a non-victimization clause, infrastructural development, among others.
Signing the document before the media in Abuja, the visibly elated Supervising Minister of Education, Barrister Nyesom Wike, described the occasion as ‘historic’ and the happiest day in his tenure as the Supervising Minister of Education.
According to Wike, ‘all contending issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. We are partners in progress and there is no victor no vanquished. ASUU has been on strike for way over five months on the account of their resolve to bring about new life to all public universities.
‘Following Mr. President’s intervention, the marathon meeting he held on 4th of December, 2013, with the leadership of ASUU and Labour Union members had the residual issues resolved and Nigerians expressed optimism that the strike would soon be called off.
“But unfortunately, due to ASUU’s insistence that federal government must take practical steps to show good faith and commitment to the implementation of the agreement, as a responsible and responsive government, we have a duty to restore normalcy to our university system so that our children can resume classes and pursue their educational careers. Consequently, the vice chancellors of federal universities were directed by the pro-chancellors to immediately reopen the universities for academic activities while the minor discrepancies are sorted out.”
Wike said government will continue to do all it can to ensure the development of the education sector.
Speaking further, he noted ‘let me emphasise that we appreciate ASUU’s patriotic role and commitment towards ensuring that our universities are well funded, resourced and run like their counterparts in other parts of the world.”
Responding, the ASUU President assured that the union would consult with its National Executive council (NEC) before calling off the strike in the shortest possible time.
Fagge noted that the agitation was only to ensure that up to date facilities are put in place in the universities so that they can measure with others across the world.
He thanked all stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians for their role and understanding during the protracted strike.