President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria Universities to call off the industrial action embarked upon by its members in the overall interest of the nation.
The President made the call on Tuesday in Ndufu-Alike, Abakaliki, during the third convocation of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State.
Represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Mr. Victor Onuoha, Buhari said the Federal Government had provided the requisite environment for teaching and learning in Nigerian universities.
“Consequently, I urge ASUU to suspend its ongoing industrial action in the overall national interest.
“This administration is not unmindful of the fact that funding for education may not be adequate largely due to lean resources and other competing national needs. I want to assure Nigerians that we will continue to do the needful within the limited available resources,” he said.
The President also congratulated the university and felicitated with the graduating students for completing their university education.
While urging the graduates to be good ambassadors of the institution, he said, “These fresh minds represent our hope for a better future as they are expected to invest their time and intellectual resources in the development of our nation and the world at large.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is determined to provide the requisite environment for teaching and learning in the university system. This result is one of the reasons for the energising education programme we have started and the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, is one the nine beneficiaries in the first phase.
“Universities have critical roles to play in nation building. They must justify this through excellent, innovative ideas and empowering the youth with right mental attitude, functional knowledge and saleable skills to be globally competitive and develop our nation.
“Nigerian universities should ensure that students are provided with capacities to discover their innate qualities and use same to impact positively on the global economy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Tuesday said progress was being recorded in the negotiation with the leadership of ASUU, stressing that the meeting which he held with ASUU leaders on Monday was not deadlocked.
The minister explained that the meeting ended after two hours because parties involved in the negotiation agreed on the implementation and work plan of the reports submitted at the meeting by ministries, departments and agencies.
A statement signed by the Director of Press at the labour ministry, Samuel Olowookere, said, “After the meeting with ASUU on December 10, 2018, the different MDAs were given assignments and their reports were submitted during the meeting of Monday, December 17, 2018.
“The two parties agreed on implementation and work plan of the reports and gave themselves some days to see if it can be accomplished before Christmas, hence the meeting did not last more than two hours unlike the usual protracted meeting.
“The ministry wishes to state that the negotiation between the FG and ASUU on the resolution of the strike is still ongoing and making progress as the FG is determined to resolve the outstanding lingering issue to ensure that the strike is called off and students back to school as quickly as possible.”