By Marcus Ikechukwu
Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, says the Government may order Vice Chancellors to open universities that have been under lock and key due to the strike by ASUU, citing the ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), ordering members of the striking members of ASUU to return to work.
Ngige said it was no victor, no vanquished in the ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria ordering members of the striking ASUU to return to work.
The Minister spoke on Thursday while receiving members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) in his office.
He said the government would order the vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the court’s order.
Ngige also assured that the court ruling does not preclude further negotiation between the Federal Government and ASUU.
He said: “The ruling is in the best interest of the nation. It is a win-win situation for all of us- government, students, lecturers- all Nigerians. I have just gotten the order of the court asking ASUU to go back to work.”
“It is a sound judgment. It is no victor, no vanquished. You doctors in academics are, for now, members of ASUU, but you are here even though you have dissociated yourself and are working. We want to thank you for working and teaching your students.”
“The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations. The pro-chancellors met Mr President and made some demands, such as topping up government offers and seeing whether there could be some bailout. Mr President said in considering it, he would consult stakeholders. So, he is going to consult everybody.”
Ngige welcomed the intervention of the House of Representatives in the ASUU imbroglio, saying he was happy that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said they would meet the President.
He said the intervention was timely considering that the President must have consulted some stakeholders, adding that whatever money to be put in would go into the 2023 appropriation where the National Assembly comes in.
“If they have shown interest now, it is good and wonderful. When they bring that proposal, the Executive will not have any problem. ASUU should also know that this is a step in the right direction. And all these things have been promised them by the Minister of Education at their last meeting with him. For me, they should do the needful and get back to the classroom.”