Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to give more concessions to striking university lecturers.
The pro-chancellors stated this at a meeting with the president at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
They were led by Nimi Briggs, an emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Pro-Chancellor, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State, according to a statement by presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina.
The pro-chancellors asked the president to reconsider the federal government’s ‘No Work, No Pay’ stance, saying the academic staff will have to make up for the time lost despite the strike, he said.
Mr Briggs had led the government’s side to renegotiate the 2009 agreement with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
At the meeting with the president on Friday, he commended the government for concessions already made to the striking lecturers, including the offer to raise salaries by 23.5 per cent across the board, and 35 per cent for professors.
“He, however, asked for further inching up of the salary, in view of the economic situation of the country,” Mr Adesina wrote.
“The President said without necessarily going back on what is already established policy, “I will make further consultations, and I’ll get back to you.”
Mr Briggs was said to have added that despite the pall cast by more than seven months of industrial action, “the future of university system in the country is good,” citing as an example the recent listing of the University of Ibadan among the first 1,000 universities in the world, a development occurring for the first time.
The statement by Mr Adesina said the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nana Opiah, said all the concessions made by the government were to ensure that the industrial action comes to an end, “but ASUU has remained adamant.”
The Nigerian government had said it would not pay ASUU for the period it embarked on strike, insisting on the ‘No Work, No pay’ rule.
ASUU, which commenced industrial action on 14 February, also said it is not suspending the strike until its members’ salaries are paid and its demands met.
In reaction to the government’s stance, ASUU extended its already six-month-old strike indefinitely on 29 August.
The government has also referred the dispute to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) which is currently presiding over the matter.
The suit seeking to restrain ASUU from going on with the strike will be heard on Monday.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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