The Federal Government has again frowned at the decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embark on 4-week warning strike, regretting that the action was abrupt in the midst of negotiations.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who made this position known to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), denied that he had been shunning meetings with the union.
The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
ASUU had declared a one month warning strike on Monday over unresolved demands, which they claimed the federal government has been reluctant to meet.
The Minister, however, stated that he had been the one summoning meetings with ASUU in an effort to resolve contentious issues.
He said, “ASUU, unfortunately, have gone on strike and I am looking for them because all the issues are being addressed.
“The last thing that happened was that our committee looked at their demands but there are renegotiations going on. They submitted a draft agreement which the ministry is looking at.”
On the draft agreement with ASUU, he said: “A committee is looking at it. Immediately it finishes, the government is meant to announce what it had accepted. Then suddenly, I heard them going on strike.”
Adamu dismissed the insinuation that he deliberately refused to attend meetings with ASUU.
“ASUU will never say that. I always call the meeting myself. The meetings I didn’t attend were those that happened when I was in hospital in Germany.
“We want a peaceful resolution. The federal government is ready to meet them on all issues they have raised and if there are so many meetings and the gap is not closing, then, I think it’s not the fault of the government.
“There is a solution to this. The negotiations are the solution and that is why I have said that I am surprised that ASUU has gone on strike.”
Asked if the government can reach an agreement with ASUU before the end of the 30-day strike, the minister said:
“I can’t give you time. I am ready to reach an agreement with ASUU now but since I’m not the only one, I can’t give you time but certainly we are going to reach an agreement very soon.”
The minister also defended the discriminatory cut-off marks for southern and northern prospective Common Entrance admission candidates for Unity Schools, saying that “it is in line with the Federal Character principle.’’
According to him, the policy will remain until such a time it is no longer necessary.
“I am not aware of any difference unless it is meant to satisfy the requirements of Federal character.
“I think federal character is required for the nation and it is accepted. There is nothing we can do about that. There would come a time when it would not be necessary.”