President Goodluck Jonathan (left); ASUU Vice President, Mr. Biodun Ogunyemi Onabanjo (2nd right); Vice President Namadi Sambo (2nd left) and ASUU President, Nasir Faggae (right) during the meeting.Moments after the meeting between the Senate President David Mark and the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, ended without any agreement on how to resolve the four-month old strike, the university lecturers immediately went into another crucial meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan.
The meeting with the President which kicked off at about 2:30pm had in attendance, President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, as well as Minister of Education and Labour, Nyesom Wike and Emeka Wogu. The ASUU delegation comprised National President of ASUU, Dr Nasir Fagge and other executives of the union.
President of Nigerian Labour Congress, Mallam Abdulwaheed Omar was also in attendance. While exchanging pleasantries with the ASUU delegation, President Jonathan said: “I hope this strike will end today. Our children have suffered enough. We must find a solution.”
Earlier, at the end of their meeting, both ASUU and the Senate President did not agree to call off the strike after the union had presented its position before Senator Mark, although the union expressed optimism that the intervention of the Senate might bring a lasting solution to the crisis. Speaking in an interview after a closed-door session with the Senate, ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Isa Fagge said the meeting was convened at the instance of the Senate and that after presenting their position, the union was waiting for the Senate’s reaction to their position.When asked whether the closed door meeting was conclusive, Dr. Fagge whose answer was in the negative, however, said that the intervention by the Senate President was a welcome development to get the crisis sorted out for the universities to be re-opened and that the union was waiting for the outcome.
Senate President, David Mark said: “As you are aware, I have been mandated by the Senate to meet with you and the Federal Government to resolve this crisis as soon as possible so that the children will go back to the classrooms and I believe that is what you also want. “So we are on the same wave length, just a matter of approach to get it right. I sympathise with your cause and I believe whatever can be done for you to go back to your work should be done and as quickly as possible. “I think this is long overdue for us to sort out. So, the intervention as you may know, the Senate mandated me to talk to both ASUU and talk with Mr. President and that is precisely what am doing. “At the end of the day, it is not how long we dragged this matter that is important but how soon we sort it out. We will sort it out so that there will be no winner, no loser.
“It is not a matter of ego, it is not a matter of who has an upper hand or who has won in this dispute. National interest is what is at stake. Our students have been out of classrooms for four months now and that is not in the best interest of anybody. “We are not happy about it, the parents are not happy and the government is not happy. So if something is going on and we are not happy about it the proper thing is to have it resolved as quickly as possible.” ASUU President, Dr. Fagge said, “Members of ASUU are not just lecturers. We are also parents and also among us we have students who are pursuing post-graduate degrees so this strike directly affects us negatively.”