The Federal Government says it will continue to negotiate with the Academic Staff Union of Universities in spite of Wednesday’s court ruling restraining the union from continuing with its seventh month strike.
The National Industrial Court of Nigeria ordered the lecturers to return to the classroom following a suit by the FG.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, made Federal Government’s position known when he hosted visiting members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics.
“The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations,” he said.
ASUU began its strike to demand that the Federal Government revisits some agreements signed between them in 2009 and also to improve on varsity funding and payment of earned allowances.
The lecturers also want the Federal Government to shelve its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System in paying lecturers’ salaries.
The Federal Government uses the IPPIS platform to pay its employees.
They demanded that rather than its IPPIS, government should adopt the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, the payment platform designed by the universities themselves, to pay lecturers.
The Minister told his visitors that the Industrial Court’s ruling was in the best interest of Nigeria and its people.
According to him, the ruling is a win-win for government, students, lecturers and all Nigerians.
Ngige said: “It is a no victor, no vanquished.
“You doctors in academics are for now members of ASUU, but you are here; even though you have dissociated yourselves and you are working.
“We want to thank you for working and teaching your students.”
He noted that pro-chancellors of universities had met with President Muhammadu Buhari and made some demands that included topping up government’s offer and seeing whether there could be some bailout.
Ngige added that the President had assured that he would consult with stakeholders on the request.
The Minister also commended the House of Representatives for intervening in the ASUU imbroglio.
Ngige said that he was happy that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, also assured that principal officers of the House would meet with President Buhari over the strike.
He explained that whatever money that would be approved to meet some of the demands would go into the 2023 budget.
He said: “Since the House has showed interest now, it is good and wonderful.
“When they bring that proposal, the Executive will not have any problem.
“ASUU should also know that this is a step in the right direction.
“All these things have been promised them by the Minister of Education at their last meeting.
“For me, they should do the needful and go back to the classroom.”
Ngige said government would soon direct vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the order of court.