Federal Government on Wednesday inaugurated a committee to renegotiate the agreements it had with University-based unions since 1999.
The decision was said to have been sequel to controversies that have trailed the terms of the agreement between the government and trade unions in the nation’s ivory towers.
The government’s team, categorised into substantive members, advisers, and observers, is chaired by Professor Emeritus, Munzali Jibril.
The terms of reference of the team included re-negotiating the residual issues in the 2009 Agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the University-based unions towards a workable and implementable agreement between both parties, such that will facilitate repositioning of Nigerian Universities for greater responsibilities in national development.
Others are proposing and prescribing short, medium, and long-term measures for the sustainable funding and management of Federal Universities, in order to restore lasting peace, stability, harmony, and progress in the Nigerian University system; and making any other recommendations, as may be necessary, to ensure the realistic implementation of future agreements, by all stakeholders.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, performed the inauguration of the reconstituted team of the government for the renegotiation in Abuja.
He said, “The Federal Government 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 President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), “approved the reconstituted Federal Government Team for the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreements.”
According to him, 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 and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public Universities.
Adamu reaffirmed the commitment of the government to find a lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the University sub-sector.
He said, “It is noteworthy that although most of the 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.
“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 Universities.
“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. Let me congratulate you on your appointment, which is a clarion call to service.
“Your full commitment and dedication to duty is required, as I have no doubt that you will apply yourselves fully to the task implicit in your assignment. I, therefore, urge you to put your best in making any recommendations, given the full implications of such actions to the funding and management of university education in the foreseeable future.”