Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has expressed optimism that members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities will accept the new offer by the Federal Government and end the eight-month strike which began in March.
He urged ASUU to hasten consultations with its members in order to return to the negotiation table before Friday.
“I feel that even this offer is one of the best they have ever gotten since I started conciliation with them. I do not see why they should not accept it. Everything they asked for has been granted. I don’t think they should say the offer is not good.
“But I told them before they left that asking the nation and the students to wait from Friday to Friday is unfair, they should come back to us by Tuesday. They have done that before when we negotiated with the Senate President. The offer was made on a Thursday and they came back to us on a Tuesday.
“So, that’s what I expect them to do this time around. If they do so, the nation will appreciate them and regard them as patriotic citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I expect them to get back to me much earlier than Friday,” the minister, who spoke on an Arise TV interview monitored by The PUNCH, said.
The PUNCH had reported last Friday that the Federal Government accepted the demand by ASUU that the lecturers be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
The government also offered to increase the Earned Allowances to university staff from N30 billion to N35b and the Revitalisation Fund from N20b to N25b.
The development came after weeks of negotiations and disagreements by the FG and ASUU, which proposed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution as its preferred payment platform.
Reading out the communique at the end of a seven-hour negotiation with ASUU members in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had said the government also agreed to ASUU’s demand to pay their members’ salary arrears from February to June through the old salary payment platform, Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System.
The breakthrough in negotiations is expected to end the eight-month strike embarked on by the university lecturers as parents and students wait on ASUU to call off the strike.