The Federal Government on Friday apologized to Nigerian students and parents over the prolonged strike initiated by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
The leadership of the public university teachers early Friday morning conditionally suspended the eight-month strike they started on February 14 due to the government’s failure to address some of their concerns.
The Federal Government through the Ministry of Labor and Employment has expressed gratitude to all Nigerians who participated in various ways in the negotiations that led to the termination of the strike.
A statement by the Deputy Director of Press in the Ministry, Olajide Oshundun, assured Nigerians that with the steps being taken by the federal government, Nigerian students will be spared the unpleasant experience of intermittent, prolonged industrial actions in the future.
According to the statement: “In a special way, the Minister of Labor and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige expresses gratitude to the Honorable Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and the leadership of the House of the House of Representatives.
“We particularly acknowledge the patriotic efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, the former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Supo Ayokunle, all members of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria whose wisdom and intervention raised a ray of hope while the strike was in its infancy, but for ASUU’s intransigence to negotiation.
“We were forced to migrate the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) created by the 1999 Constitution as amended, for the settlement of industrial disputes because every channel of negotiation, including the tripartite plus, in which eminent Nigerians participated, failed. We had no other option but to activate Section 17 of the Trade Disputes Act.
“Now that ASUU has decided to obey the ruling of the National Industrial Court by suspending the devastating action, we apologize to all students and parents, of which the honorable minister is one, for this unnecessarily prolonged strike, which is unjustified ab initio .
“We want to ensure that with the decision, steps and measures taken by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in the holistic repositioning of higher education, a foundation is being laid, which we are confident will save Nigerians from this unsavory experience .of incessant strike in the future.
“It is indeed our hope that, now that the strike has been called off, the National Industrial Court will deal with the substantive issues as contained in the reference letter by the honorable minister. This is to ensure that justice is done to all parties, including ASUU and their employers – the Federal Ministry of Education acting on behalf of the Federal Government.”
The statement further noted that the Ministry of Labor and Employment will continue to work with both parties to find an amicable solution to other issues not placed before the industrial court, to find lasting solution to the instability in the university system.
“We certainly cannot be less grateful to the judiciary for deepening our labor jurisprudence in upholding the essence of the 3rd reform of the 1999 Constitution, especially as it relates to Articles 243 and 254A.”