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Jonathan wants immediate end to ASUU strike

By The Rainbow
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PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday instructed the committees meeting with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to ensure the immediate resolution of the contending issues, so that the lecturers could call off their strike.

Jonathan is said to be sorely displeased with the lingering strike and the impact on the educational sector.

To break the negotiation logjam between government and ASUU, the Federal Government is going to meet with the councils and vice chancellors of the universities to fashion out the way out.

Chairman of the presidential committee on needs assessment of universities, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, told State House correspondents after a meeting with President Jonathan on Tuesday, that they had a fruitful meeting with the president.

He said, 'we have just risen from a meeting to take some decisions that would end the strike and the president has instructed us as to what to do and he has shown a lot of commitments and kicking off a project worth about N100 billion in all the universities in the country, about 61 of them.

'So, we are hoping that we will be able to see the end of the strike very soon if, at the end of the day, ASUU is satisfied with the measures that have so far taken. The Federal Government will also be meeting with the university councils and vice chancellors within the week, towards updating them on some of the decisions taken.'

The governor  also disclosed that the Federal Government would meet the councils and vice chancellors in an attempt to resolve the issue of the N92 billion earned allowance being claimed by striking members of the union.

The council, he disclosed, would verify those to benefit from the N30 billion the Federal Government had already committed to assist the university authorities in the payment of the allowance.

While noting that negotiation with ASUU was ongoing, even as the Federal Government had shifted grounds, Suswam said 'the Federal Government has opted to also meet with the councils and managements of the universities, because earned allowance is something that can be certified by the management and councils

'The Federal Government said it is assisting the university councils with the sum of N30 billion for them to go and verify the people who actually earn these allowances and pay them. I think the government had demonstrated some substantial faith.'

Buttressing his point, the committee chairman pointed out that if the government had shifted its position by offering to pay N30 billion out of the total demand of the union, it showed a forward movement in the negotiation.

'Yes, if ASUU said this is the amount of money that the Federal Government is owing them and the government has shifted ground from its initial posture that there was no money and offered N30 billion, it means we are moving forward and with a N100 billion available now for addressing the physical infrastructure deficit in our universities, I think the Federal Government has done quite well,' he said.

Suswam was hopeful that the ongoing strike would be called off soon, 'based on some of the mechanisms that we have put in place to move the sector forward,' noting that his committee had concluded its work on most of the areas assigned to it.

He reiterated that Jonathan would kick off university projects, including hostels, classrooms, theatres, libraries and laboratories, amongst others, in 61 universities, in the first week of next month, followed by a procurement process.

'Some are renovation projects, others are new and all the 61 universities are going to benefit from one project or another. So, it is not going to be selective. All the universities are going to benefit from this infrastructure revitalisation of our universities,' he said.