President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration will honour its agreements with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to prevent incessant strikes in the education sector.
According to Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, Buhari spoke on Tuesday when he received members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja.
The visit was led by Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, and Samson Ayokunle, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
In his remark, the president hailed NIREC’s interventions in past strikes embarked upon by ASUU.
The president said while his government is committed to meeting ASUU’s demands, the union should also consider the nation’s current challenges when making decisions.
”However, they should be cognizant of the fiscal pressures that we are currently facing. Nevertheless, we remain committed to honoring our promises,” he said.
”For their part, I would like to encourage ASUU to continue to work with us towards finding resolutions to the challenges that confront us.
”My administration is committed to this engagement and dialogue, and I urge them to stay the course towards a joint resolution in the best interest of our children and nation.”
He said he has already directed his chief of staff as well as ministers for education and that of labour and employment to look into issues raised by the NIREC leadership so as to prevent further strikes in varsities across the country.
Buhari also disclosed that he had received a briefing from the minister of labour on the progress made with various stakeholders regarding the issues raised by ASUU.
”To show our commitment, several payments have been made over the last 6 months, addressing several of the issues you raised – details of which the minister of labour and employment can make available to you,” he said.
”Funding has also been provided for infrastructure development across several public universities and several of them have begun drawing down on this facility to improve their level of infrastructure
”Finally, and perhaps the most contentious of issues regarding the decision to use either the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) or the University Transparency Accountability Solutions (UTAS).
”As you may be aware, IPPIS was introduced as a means of blocking leakages. Through IPPIS, the Federal Government was able to save over N100 billion annually from the core civil service alone. In view of the resistance from ASUU we devised UTAS which is now on the table.
”I have also been informed that the System Assessment Report conducted by NITDA has been shared by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy to all stakeholders including ASUU, and they are to make the appropriate modifications and report their recommendations.”
At the event, Ayokunle, who spoke on behalf of the council, said the meeting with the president was to avert industrial actions in the universities and to address the challenges facing ASUU.
The NIREC leadership also appealed to Buhari to address the government’s lingering issues with ASUU including the controversial 2009 agreement.
ASUU had earlier threatened to embark on an indefinite strike if the government fails to fulfill its agreement with the union.
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