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We, varsity workers may reach agreement next week – FG

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The federal government has expressed optimism that the decisions reached at its tripartite plus meeting with the university-based unions would start yielding fruits next week.

This was contained in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the Head, Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Mr. Olajide Oshundun.

Oshundun quoted the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, as saying this while addressing newsmen at the end of the meeting on the on-going strike by unions in the education sector.

“We had cordial and fruitful discussion; we looked at the issues dispassionately and reached some agreements, to the satisfaction of everybody in attendance,” Ngige said.

He said the parties included the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) headed by the Sultan of Sokoto; Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), led by Rev. Sampson Ayokunle, NIREC co- chairman.

“We discussed. Everybody was happy. We reached some agreements and we hope that by next week, those agreements will start maturing.

“The four unions will also go and brief their members, so that they can call off the strike.”

The statement also quoted the Chief of Staff to the President and Chairman of the tripartite meeting, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, as informing the meeting that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed him to pilot the meeting.

Gambari said the team comprising the Ministers of Labour, Finance and Education would work with ASUU leaders and stakeholders to find a

lasting solution to the perennial strikes in our education system.

“Not long ago we had a calendar and predictability of when a student enters the university and when he or she can graduate.

“But we all know that all of that has changed and the impact on our education system and even the reputation of our universities has been devastating,” he said.

In his remarks, according to the statement, Abubakar gave the assurance that all hope was not lost in the resolution of the strikes.

“Once we sit together to discuss a problem, we believe that the end is in sight as dialogue is the best option in resolving all issues.

“I don’t think it will be so beneficial to us that while our children are at home and threatening violence across the country, blocking roads and airports and we as elders sit down watching.

“There must be a compromise. At the end of it all, there will be no victor, no vanquished. It is important to see us working to put our educational system back on track.

“It will be very dangerous to allow our children to sit at home for the next three weeks. That is why we plead with the unions to see the need to call off while we negotiate.”

On his part, Ayokunle said, “If others funded the education sector as much as the present administration has done, maybe we will not be where we are.”

He appealed to the unions to return to work in the interest of children and the future of the country.

Also, ASUU president, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, urged the government to give quality attention to education, saying if it “does, all the problems could be amicably resolved very soon.”

(NAN)