From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
Efforts to revamp the wobbly university education in Nigeria crumbled like a pack of cards on Friday as the meeting of the Renegotiation Committee of the Federal Government and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) over the 2009 Agreement of the Universities and Inter-University Centres was deadlocked.
The meeting was scheduled to be held on Friday at the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abuja, but the NASU Renegotiation Team got the shock of its life when it got to the venue with high hopes but discovered that the FG team was not ready for discussions.
The General Secretary of NASU, Mr Peters Adeyemi, who made the disclosures in a statement explained that the Government Team of the Renegotiation Committee led by Prof. Nimi Briggs, the Pro-Chancellor of Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State was not ready for any renegotiation.
“This was very obvious from the moment the meeting commenced looking at the first item on the report of the Sub-committee of the Renegotiating Committee.
“The meeting of the FGN/NASU Renegotiation Committee chaired by Dr. Wale Babalakin, the then Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, held on Friday, 10th August, 2018 set up a Sub-committee comprising members of Government Team and NASU in the Renegotiation Committee to examine the Memorandum of Demand (MOD) of NASU and identify issues that were contentious, non-contentious and those that required further clarification in order to facilitate the renegotiation of the issues involved.
“On resumption of the renegotiation today, Friday, 22nd April, 2022, the Government side did everything possible to set aside the report of the Sub-committee, which was chaired by Prof. Olufemi Bamiro, with the current Chairman, Prof. Nimi Briggs as member. The Government side was only ready to enter disagreements on all items on the Union’s MOD as if that was a pre-determined position before the meeting”, he explained.
The NASU Scribe added that it was obvious that the Government side of the Renegotiation Committee lacks capacity to commit their Principals (the Federal Government) on any issue of the negotiation.
“This we found to be strange and not in line with the principles of collective bargaining.
“It is shocking and surprising to the Union that at this time when all hands should be on deck to resolve the lingering crisis in the University system in order to enable our children return to the classroom, the Government side of the Renegotiation Committee will show non-commitment and nonchalant attitude to the renegotiation, which is aimed at resolving the crisis. We came to the conclusion that the meeting was just window dressing and aimed at playing to the gallery.
“NASU members of the Negotiation Committee therefore had no option than to inform the Government side that they have to go back to their Principals, i.e., NASU members in the Universities and Inter-University Centres to inform them of the development and get their directives on further steps to take”, Adeyemi added.