The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, says the government cannot meet the request of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) due to present economic situation in the country.
ASUU is demanding N110 billion for revatilisation of tertiary institutions amongst other requests.
Ngige, who stated this on Wednesday night while briefing journalists immediately after a closed-door meeting with ASUU members in Abuja, reiterated that government had offered only N20 billion it can afford.
“This government is not against revitalisation but this government says that because of dare economic situation, because of COVID-19, we cannot really pay in the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalization,” the minister said.
After seven months of nationwide industrial action by the ASUU, it on Wednesday announced readiness of its members to resume work, if the federal government pays their outstanding salaries.
The Ibadan zonal coordinator of the union, Professor Ade Adejumo, who disclosed this at a press conference held at the conference room, faculty of art, University of Ibadan, said despite the ongoing negotiation with the federal government, government had refused to pay their salaries and allowances.
At the press conference are representatives of schools under the Ibadan zone: Moyosore Ajao (Unilorin), Professor Ayo Akinwole (UI), Dr. Femi Abanikanda (Uniosun), Dr. Biodun Olaniran (LAUTECH), and Dr. Dauda Adesola (KWASU).
‘We are tired’
Adejumo, who was represented at the conference by Prof. Moyo Ajao, the Chairperson, ASUU, University of Ilorin Chapter, said the union was forced to go on strike in March 2020 when the COVID-19 lockdown began.
He said this was done to give the government enough room to address lingering issues.
“It was a patriotic act aimed at resolving the issues so that our students would be in school any time the lockdown was lifted.
“Some people have been wondering why ASUU is on strike again.
“The simple answer is that ASUU is on strike because of the survival of the University system where many of us still have our children as students.
“ASUU is on strike in order to restore the past glory of public universities and address infrastructural decay and deficit in our institutions.
“ASUU is on strike for the legitimate dues of its members who are the least paid in the tertiary education sub-sector,” he said.
According to him, ASUU is actually tired of having a circus show of talks but in the interest of the students and the Nigerians at large, it still continue to hold meetings upon meetings.