President meets Suswam, key ministers over ASUU strike

By The Citizen

President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday met behind closed-doors with Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and some key ministers over the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

Suswam is the Chairman of the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy Assessment Implementation Committee of the universities.

Others, who attended the meeting, included the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqqayat Rufa'i; and the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu.

The meeting, which was held inside the President's office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, lasted for a few hours.

No official statement was made available at the end of the meeting.

Okonjo-Iweala and Suswam left the premises, using a gate that allowed  them to evade journalists' that might have wanted to ask questions.

Wogu, who was initially walking towards the Press Gallery, quickly made a detour when he sighted journalists waiting for him and left through the same gate that the minister and the governor had passed through earlier.

Rufa'i, however, walked into the journalists' ambush before she realised it.

She initially declined comments on the meeting but when pressed further, she said the government was on course in its negotiation with ASUU.

The minister, however, appealed to the striking union to call off the industrial action in the interest of the nation.

'I have not been mandated to speak to journalists on the matter but I can tell you that we are on course. I will only appeal to ASUU to call off the strike in the interest of the nation,' she said.

Meanwhile, ASUU on Monday foreclosed an early resolution of the industrial crisis rocking the nation's university system as the union insisted that it would not call of its industrial action until all its demands were met by the Federal Government.

The President of ASUU, Nasir Fagge, insisted that the union was resolute in sustaining the ongoing strike action to ensure that the topical issues affecting the nation's university system tackled decisively once and for all.

He said it was inconceivable for the union to call of the strike without achieving the objectives of the action only to call another one later.

The ASUU President, who made the comment while speak with journalists at the Benue  State Governor's Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, said the union  decided to continue with the strike because of the failure of the government to address the issues raised  after previous industrial actions were called off.