The Federal Government yesterday advised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end its four-month old strike by rethinking its “take-it-or-leave-it approach to negotiation”.
Talks between the government and the teachers broke down when ASUU accused the government of being uninterested in implementing the 2009 agreement.
In a statement yesterday, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, accused ASUU leaders of “distributing pamphlets and flyers with abusive and inflammatory messages against the Finance minister in mosques and other places”
The minster described ASUU action as “taking academic unionism to a new low and infusing it with unnecessary politics”.
The statement added that the messages contained in the pamphlets and flyers “are directed at using falsehood to demonise the minister as callous and unsympathetic to the plight of students and parents”.
The major lie being peddled in the pamphlets and flyers is that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has insisted on a “take-it-or-leave-it approach” in the negotiations with ASUU.
Contrary to some recent media reports, the Federal government the statement said, has not adopted a take-it-or-leave-it approach in its negotiations with ASUU.
Rather, the government’s “approach is focused on positive engagement and achieving sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in the country”.
It said government “has demonstrated its commitment to improving the university system. And it is even ready to do much more going forward. ASUU should listen to the voice of reason and the yearnings of Nigerians on this issue.
“Government is working hard to seek practical and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing higher education in Nigeria.”
“Already, President Goodluck Jonathan has made available N100 billion a year, in the first instance, to repair hostels, laboratories and classrooms and other facilities. An offer has also been made to ASUU of N30 billion towards their earned allowances. In fact, negotiations have even gone further than this.”
The statement added: “It is the first time, in years of negotiating with government, that significant sums of money have been put on the table for ASUU and universities on this particular set of issues and the coordinating minister is fully part of this.”