Ngige Accuses ASUU of Snubbing Govt Renegotiation Panel

The Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige has blamed the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of frustrating efforts by the federal government to resolve the ongoing dispute with the university lecturers.

He accused ASUU of boycotting the sitting of the re-negotiation committee set up to look into grey areas of the contentious 2009 agreement.

As one of the presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ngige said he would, if elected president, take measures to fix challenges facing the country including insecurity by restructuring the command and control system of the Police Force to the remotest hamlet.

He also said if given the opportunity, he would use the experience he had gathered throughout his nearly 40 years of public service to make the difference in governance in the country within two years.

The former governor of Anambra state who spoke yesterday, during an interview on Channels Television, said for the current crisis in the university system to be resolved fast, ASUU has to come down from its high horse.

“I am a conciliator and arbitrator and we drew up agreements and in those agreements, some of them are money issues while others are not money issues.

He said that ASUU is trying to force its demands down the throat of the government whether they are acceptable or not. For instance, he said that ASUU is seeking the approval of it’s choice salary payment platform, University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) even when it has failed integrity and vulnerability test conducted by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

“UTAS according to the report I got from NITDA and Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy had gone through series of tests and among these tests are the user acceptability test involving University Bursar’s and the second test which is the integrity and vulnerability test, NITDA said that UTAS failed the test,” he said.

Ngige explained that he invited ASUU leadership and informed them of the report of the test and advised that they should go back to conduct another integrity test together with NITDA and another neutral stakeholders to verify it.

However, Ngige said that before arrangements could be made to conduct another round test, ASUU declared a warning strike without notice.

“How can I now force NITDA to say that UTAS has passed the vulnerability test and integrity test when they are the experts and I am only a conciliator.

“There is a re-negotiation going on in the Ministry of Education towards the 2009 agreement which stipulates that you review the agreement on their conditions of service, that you review everything including the revitalization, the Ministry has done that in education. I set up the committee led by Prof. Munzali and asked tye Ministry of Education to speed it up and they finished and said every side go to your principal and present the proposal do that they will look at it.

“Nobody has signed it. They came back and the Budget and Planning Ministry, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission, Ministry of Finance, Education, National Universities Commission pointed out to them that the proposal will not fly in government because the government doesn’t have the means,” tye minister said.

Ngige however said that the six weeks given to a new re-negotiation committee headed by Prof. Nimi Briggs will end by today, (Friday) and that he will summon ASUU and the government side to a meeting.

When asked the way forward and what the federal government intends to do if reconciliation fails, Ngige said that he may consider referring the matter to an arbitration panel or the Industrial Court for adjudication.

“I am presently pushing the Ministry of Education to fast-track negotiations review the proposal, but ASUU has to cooperate. They have refused to even go to the Briggs-lee re-negotiation committee,” he said


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