No presidential order to end ASUU strike in two weeks, says education minister
Nigeria’s education minister Adamu Adamu has denied getting a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari to end the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in two weeks.
Adamu told State House Correspondents on Thursday that Buhari instead told him to resolve the issues within the shortest possible time, contrary to what the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, told the media.
ASUU and government representatives met on Tuesday after the president of the union Emmanuel Osodeke said the government agreed to adopt the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as the payment platform of lecturers and suspend the strike.
The union strike has been on since February 14 over the government’s failure to implement its demands on salaries and allowances of lecturers, improved funding for universities as well as the adoption of UTAS against the federal government’s preferred payment platform — Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
While Tuesday’s meeting ended in a deadlock with no agreement between the government and ASUU, Adamu said he will not succumb to ASUU’s demand for their members to be paid the backlog of salaries withheld within the period of six months that they were on strike, noting that it is the penalty for their action.
The minister also disclosed that five of the university-based unions will likely call off their strike within the next one week while that of ASUU remains uncertain.
Adamu argued that in spite of the N2.5 trillion expended on education by President Buhari’s administration through the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND) as well as Universal Basic Education (UBEC), surpassing the N1.2 trillion demanded by ASUU, lecturers have maintained their position to embark on a needless strike.
However, he, noted that ASUU had begun consultations with their members to determine whether to call off their strike as well.
President Muhammadu Buhari last week appealed to the ASUU to call off the ongoing strike.
Buhari said negotiations had gone far, and for ASUU to continue the strike under such conditions was counterproductive.
The minister also faulted figures by UNICEF as well as the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs pegging the number of out-of-school children at 10.5 million.
According to him, that figure has since 2020 declined to 6.9 million.
This is as he said the government has further recorded impressive enrollment in the last year, particularly in frontline states such as Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Rivers, and Ebonyi states.