The Presidency, Wednesday, said the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities can reach favourable agreements in less than two or three weeks if all stakeholders are not “unrealistically obstinate.”
It also revealed that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, chose to resolve the five-month ASUU strike within two or three weeks, as opposed to being pressured by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency said Adamu requested that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, hands off of the negotiation to allow him to conclude his initial negotiations with the striking union.
The statement is titled ‘On university strikes, government is ready for business.’
It read in part, “Neither during nor after the meeting was any ultimatum given to the Minister of Education. During the meeting, the Minister of Education requested that the Minister of Labour hands off the negotiation to allow him to lead and conclude what he had earlier on started with the Academic Staff Union of Universities. And he promised that he could get an agreement within the shortest possible time, possibly two to three weeks.
“In carrying out this assignment, the Minister will carry along all relevant ministries and agencies with statutory functions and duties relating to the issues involved.
“The Presidency is optimistic that agreements can be reached in an even shorter period if all parties/stakeholders are not unrealistically obstinate. We appeal to the parties to work together to end the strikes.”
It said the regime’s doors remain open for dialogue and the resolution of the issues.
The Presidency also appealed to the media to avoid “spreading misinformation” saying that the two-week-ultimatum narrative making the rounds is “not helpful at all.”
Meanwhile, Ngige denied reports that Buhari directed him on Tuesday to hand off negotiations with ASUU.
Speaking with State House Correspondents on Wednesday, Ngige said “I saw one of the dailies writing something like that today. But the truth of the matter is there is no such thing, it’s just categorically untrue. There is nothing like a hands-off.”
Ngige said he had proposed one week to resolve the FG-ASUU faceoff but the Minister of Education, Adamu, volunteered to resolve the issues in two weeks.
He advised the university-based unions to submit their cases before the Ministry of Education whom the President has directed to resolve the issue, saying he is withdrawing from the negotiations until he is needed.