Dr Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, has said if the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was not resolved the federal government would explore the provisions in the labour law.
The recalls that ASUU had on March 24, 2020, embarked on an indefinite strike over the failure of the Federal Government to keep to the 2019 Memorandum of Action between them as well as the lingering disagreement over the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) that ASUU rejected.
Speaking on Politics Today on Channels Television on Friday, Ngige expressed optimism that the strike will be resolved by next week.
According to the former Anambra State governor, the Federal Government team will meet the union leaders next week.
He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration has met six of the union’s nine demands.
He stated, “Even if countries go to war, at the end of the day they come to the negotiation table. I’m inviting them (ASUU) next week. We are doing side meetings on our part and we are collating everything. I’m collating responses from the Accountant General of the Federation’s Office and everybody who has something to do with this matter.”
When asked if it meant that the lecturers may not return to the classrooms in the next one or two weeks, he said, “I’m not looking at that (long) period. I’m an optimist on this matter. By next week, we will conclude this matter. There are so many options left. We have the labour laws and I have options left to me in the labour laws. I have other channels.”
The minister, who said his children had also been at home as a result of the strike, explained that government had agreed to give the University Transparency Academic Solution, the payment platform proposed by ASUU, a trial.
Ngige, however, said the feedback he got from the National Information Technology Development Agency, the agency mandated to follow-up the trial with ASUU, showed they had just concluded the first phase and that the second phase to assess the functional requirement of UTAS had not been done.