The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said the union is open to the Progressive Governors Forum’s (PGF) offer to take over negotiation aimed at ending the ongoing strike if it will be sincere.
The union’s National Vice-President, Dr Christopher Piwuna, disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Wednesday.
Chairman of the PGF Chairman, who also is the Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Bagudu, had, on Tuesday, said the forum would like to take over the negotiation when he led his colleagues on a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The FG’s refusal to sign the demands of ASUU and the August 16, 2022 last negotiation meeting which ended in a deadlock made the union declare a total indefinite strike on Monday.
Piwuna said, “They (the governors) have not informed us, they have not reached out to us to tell us this but the issue of education concerns every Nigerian, so there is nothing wrong for them to show interest so that this matter is settled in the best interest of the country and in our best interest and everyone interested in education. They should be concerned as Nigerians because they have been elected to office to solve problems.
“We hope the intervention will be genuine and based on respect for collective bargaining. We don’t want to be roped in to any discussion that will appear as if we are going to jettison our collective bargaining.”
Corroborating Piwuna, University of Lagos ASUU Chairman, Dr Dele Ashiru, said, “It is a welcome development if they have the mandate of the FG to negotiate on its behalf. The challenge we have is the government’s insincerity. It set up the Babalakin Committee, Jubril team and Nimi-Briggs now, yet all the reports were kicked out. If they will negotiate and eventually sign whatever is renegotiated, our union is open to interventions from all well-meaning Nigerians, including the governors.”
When asked about a viral report that the University of Benin would back out and resume on September 4, 2022, as well as some states universities who were ordered to resume by their Visitors, Piwuna and Ashiru insisted that the power to open and close a university rests on the Senate and not a Vice-Chancellor or Visitor.
Piwuna explained that, “Every university has the right to announce resumption but it is left for us to decide if we want to work or not. For now, we are on strike.
“UNIBEN is one of our strongest branches. It will be a waste of time for the VC to think she can cajole our members to return back to work without this matter being resolved nationally.”
Ashiru added, “The UNILAG that I represent was also rumoured to have pulled out. These are mere speculations from desperate agents of government who are all bent on causing disunity and discord among our members. I can authoritatively tell you because I am in touch with the UNIBEN ASUU Chairman, and that what you read online about those universities are mere fabrications by desperate agents of the government.”