The Academic Staff Union of Universities’ National President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, on Thursday said the union was not aware of the N1.2tn that the Federal Government said it would need to meet its members’ demands.
He also accused the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, of misinforming the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd.), about the ongoing strike by the union.
The Federal Government had, in a statement on Wednesday, by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Olajide Oshundun, claimed that the proposal made by the Prof. Limi Briggs-led committee in relation to the demands of members of ASUU and other unions in universities would gulp N1.12tn to implement.
The PUNCH had also on July 11, 2022 reported how Buhari appealed to the union to reconsider its ongoing strike because the action is taking a toll on parents and students.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme on Thursday, Osodeke said if the President had been properly briefed, he would not have made such a statement.
Concerning the negotiation, the ASUU President said the union was not aware of the figure being circulated by the Federal Government as the amount needed to resolve the strike.
Osodeke said, “If the President had been properly briefed by the committee through the Minister of Education, I don’t think the President would have said ‘enough is enough, go to your class while we are negotiating.’
“It is the Labour Minister and his group that would have gone to the President to tell him that we chase out his people, we refuse salary.
“We are not aware of where their so-called figure arrives from. In all our agreement and discussion, we didn’t talk about N1.2 trillion or N2.4 trillion, or whatever. We didn’t.
“We didn’t calculate the quantum of what we would need. We calculated what each member of our union will earn.
“If this man who is telling you this figure can tell a lie that ASUU chased out his members from the negotiation table, why would he not tell a lie about the figure?
“The ministry is churning out fake figures. We negotiated with the Education Ministry, so wherever they got the documents is their business.”
Orji Kalu intervenes
Meanwhile, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Kalu, has urged the Federal Government to reopen negotiation with the leadership of ASUU.
In a statement on Thursday, Kalu, ex-Abia State governor, lamented the disruption of academic activities as a result of the incessant strike by varsity teachers.
“The Federal Government should also endeavour to implement the signed agreements with the lecturers in the interest of students, their parents, the education sector and the country at large,” he said.
The senator argued that incessant strikes disrupt academic calendar, encourage brain drain and contribute significantly to the poor quality of graduates in the country, with far-reaching implications for national development.
“The Federal Government should urgently take all necessary measures to open a realistic negotiation with ASUU to stop the strike and implement the signed agreements in the interest of our students, their parents, the education sector and the country,” he added.