From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
There seems to be a glimpse of hope for public university students to resume school, as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says the federal government has agreed to adopt the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as the payment platform for lecturers.
ASUU, which is currently in a meeting with the federal government, said it may call off its six-month-long strike if an agreement is reached at the meeting.
The union’s President, Emmanuel Osodeke, who spoke Monday during an interview on a television programme, said the federal government invited the union for a meeting on Tuesday on the issue of renegotiation.
According to him: “We have not had any serious communication though they have invited us for a meeting on one issue, tomorrow (referring to Tuesday), which is the issue of renegotiation.”
“You know that there are seven issues why we are on strike. They are inviting for discussion on the issue of renegotiation tomorrow, which is the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.
“The issues of IPPIS and UTAS have been put to rest because the test has been done and it has been agreed with the chief of staff; UTAS will be implemented to cover the university.
“Two, if this government is serious, this strike will not last more than two weeks. If you recall we were going to suppose to go on strike in November, we didn’t start it because NIREC came in and intervened. We conceded to them.
“They met with the president, he set up a committee headed by the chief of staff that should resolve this quickly, the world saw it in the press, they did nothing. The president set up the Munzali committee, we met them nothing, they didn’t come back.
“They set up the Nimi Briggs committee, it’s now more than three months, two months we finished negotiating with them, they didn’t come back. The president directed the Ministry of Education to finish within two weeks, two weeks has passed, they didn’t come back.
“If we go into that meeting tomorrow and the government says what we have negotiated, we are willing to sign, the strike will be called off.”
ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over the government’s failure to implement its demands on salaries and allowances of lecturers, improved funding for universities as well as the adoption of UTAS against the federal government’s preferred payment platform — Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
As of Tuesday, the strike embarked by ASUU has entered 183 days, a development that has led to frustration for students, parents and other stakeholders.