By Steve Oni, Ilorin
The Federal government has inaugurated a Renegotiation Committee to look into the 2009 Agreements between the government and University-Based Unions, one of which precipitated the lingering industrial action of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The renegotiation team, which is categorized into substantive members, advisers and observers, is led by Professor Emeritus Munzali M. Jibril.
Others in the team, according to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, include a former Nigeria Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom of Netherlands and incumbent, Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr (Mrs) Nimota Nihinola Akanbi; Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, Professor Emeritus Nimi Briggs; Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Wukari, Arch. Lawrence P. Ngbale; Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Professor Femi Odekunle; Pro-Chancellor, University of Calabar, Senator Nkechi Nworgu; Pro-Chancellor, Kaduna State University, Professor Shehu Usman Abdullahi; and Pro-Chancellor, Kebbi State University, Bimin Kebbi, Maj. Gen. Mamman Magoro.
To serve as Advisers in the team are Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC); Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities among others.
ASUU embarked on industrial action since March this year to, among others, oppose the enrolment of university lecturers into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS).
Inaugurating the team in Abuja, the Minister said the government was worried about the years of the myriad of industrial actions in the nation’s public universities.
He said the negative impact of the incessant strike actions had led to loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed in universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action.
Adamu, however, assured that the present administration was committed to finding solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and particularly, the university sub-sector.
“As you are quite aware, the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months, have been neck deep in several meetings with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities.
“It is noteworthy that although most of residual issues were part of the comprehensive agreement reached with the previous administration, I can report that significant progress has, so far, been recorded and there is an opportunity that our public universities, like their private counterparts, will soon reopen for academic activities.
“Let me re-affirm the commitment of the present administration to finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the university sub-sector. Government is determined to, within available resources, provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian
“Government, like other stakeholders, is also worried about the vicious cycle over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other. The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action. All these have impacted negatively on our learning outcomes and the reputation of the Nigerian brand, which hitherto was the pride of the nation.
“The FGN team is expected to take another look at the 2009 Agreements reached with the university-based Unions and work with each Union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system. It has also become necessary and urgent that all hands must now be on deck to restore the confidence reposed in university education by students, parents and the general public”, the Minister said.
The federal government, had in a letter of appointment addressed to the Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr (Mrs) Nimota Nihinola Akanbi, as member of the renegotiation committee on 2009 Agreements, said she is to represent North Central in the team.
The letter was conveyed through the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono, on behalf of the Minister of Education.
It reads, “I’m pleased to inform you that the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, has approved your appointment as member of the Federal Government Team for the FGN-University-Based Unions 2009 Agreements Renegotiation Committee.
“You are to represent the North Central geopolitical zone on the committee and your appointment takes immediate effect.
“You are to be jointly briefed by the Permanent Secretary and Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) on the status of the Renegotiation and the timeline for conclusion of the exercise”.