President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Monday appealed to the striking members of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU to call off the industrial action for the sake of the students.
Lawan made the call during a meeting in Abuja between the leadership of the ASUU and some Principal Officers of the Senate on issues relating to agreements with Federal Government.
Lawn said both government and ASUU have to find common grounds for universities to open and offer the kind of services expected of the universities in the country.
“We really don’t need this kind of situation where our universities are shut, our children are the main victims of this.
“We cannot afford as a country to continue to have this kind of crisis.
“This may explain why those that can afford will normally go out of the country even to West African countries like Ghana to receive University education.
“I believe our universities can be better but they are better than most of these universities that our children go to in other African countries particularly.
“The idea is to find out how we can resolve the outstanding issues and it is supposed to be give and take.
“Government cannot have all its way and I believe ASUU should not expect to get everything it has asked for.
“Our situation today is something that everyone knows what it is.
“It is a very stressful economic situation and I believe that government is supposed to even within this type of situation play its own part.
“Its obligations must be redeemed within the confines of what we can do.
“But ASUU, I know is prepared to meet government halfway somehow because I am sure we have joint determination to resolve these issues.
“The National Assembly is the best place to go because while on one hand, we are a government, on another hand we represent the people, we represent you.
“We represent the families and the children who are now at home because the universities are shut.
“I think as parliamentarians we have to tell the truth as it is no matter how bitter it may be at the right place and at the right time. When we sign agreements we must do so with the full intention of implementing them.
“And when we negotiate, we must negotiate in such a manner that the final product will be implementable.
“This is to say that we have to accommodate each other with the government doing what it is supposed to do and ASUU being the body of our lecturers, it stands to protect its members but everybody else in the country must ensure that our universities remain open and functioning.
“Because it does not do anybody any good when the universities are shut.
“In fact, we just simply retrogress or at worst stagnate, we should work together to be able to find an accommodation.”
“He said the meeting was for Senate to look into areas of agreement and see where it could find an accommodation for ASUU and for government to be able to implement the agreements.
“I am sure that we need to review some of the items on the agreements, I don’t know who will hurt when I say that but the reality is that some many things have happened.
“We cannot have an agreement signed in 2009 and still think this is the only way we can deal with it.
“We should be able to have a look at the agreements signed and see at this time whether or not some of the issues are really practicable at all.
“We have to be realistic. I always hold this belief that government should not sign agreements when it knows that it cannot implement them.
“Under whatever situation, let the government be practical and ASUU, being a very patriotic body, will understand with the government when there is sincerity and honesty in negotiating such agreements.
“Sometimes you wonder how somebody would sign some of the
agreements and later say I cannot implement them.
“Why did you sign in the first place?” Lawan said.
Earlier, President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi said the union had lodged a complaint about the forceful introduction of the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) on its members.
“During our last meeting, we lodged a complaint over the forceful introduction of the IPPIS in the Universities which we challenged and have been challenging since 2013.
“Because there is nowhere in the world where it is used in the University system and we promised Nigerians that we are developing an alternative.
“Sometimes in 2015 when we were engaging government, the government challenged us was there something better.
“And we were going to reach an agreement with the government but suddenly the government did not turn up.
“We said we will bring three members and government will bring three members and we will work together.
“But for five years we did not hear from the government until they came back five years later to say it is IPPIS or no salary.
“Based on promises that we will take up the challenge today I am happy to inform you that we have it.
“But the problem is that we have outstanding issues from the memorandum of action government signed with us on February 7th 2019, and we had written to your excellency detailing those five issues that were outstanding.
“Your Excellency you will need to lead your weight to our demands because our demands hold the future for quality University education in this country.
“We are here in furtherance of our previous interaction and today we hope to share with you as you requested the last time we were here the product of our invention which is an alternative to the IPPIS.
“We are also here to solicit your support on the need for the government to urgently address the outstanding issue concerning our demands.”