Nigeria government said it is optimistic that public universities will reopen in January 2021 after an 11-month industrial strike action.
Nigeria’s labour and employment minister Chris Ngige said the government has already met 98% of the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) leadership.
“We have met about 98 per cent of the request of ASUU,” Ngige said in a statement.
“Some five to two per cent is what you can call promissory notes.
“We disagree to agree and agree to disagree formerly. But tomorrow (today), I hope we will agree to agree. Once we do that, schools will re-open in January.”
The government and ASUU have been at loggerheads over the reopening of public universities in the country. Both parties have held series of meetings but failed to reach a conclusion for ASUU to call off the ongoing strike since February 2020.
But education minister Adamu Adamu in early December assured students that schools will reopen ‘soon’ as the government have reportedly reach an agreement with ASUU.
Adamu noted that other negotiations were still ongoing between both parties.
He said the government have accepted ASUU demand to exempt its members from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) pending the approval of the proposed payment system – the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
However, the payment of arrears remained the most contentious issue without agreement between the government and ASUU. The union insists on the settling of the arrears of his members’ salaries before calling off the strike.
Ngige disclosed that government representatives and ASUU will be meeting on Tuesday, December 22 to finalise their discussions.
The minister said he is “very hopeful that by midnight today, there are some works we are supposed to get on to do. They also have some work they are supposed to do on their own side with their people.
“We will put everything on the table and compare. I believe that we might have come to the end of the strike when we meet.
“Well, it is a journey of a thousand miles which you will have to take one step first. Tomorrow (today), all things being equal, we will agree now to agree because we were disagreeing before,” Ngige said.