Nigeria’s Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, is set to address Nigerians on the lingering industrial crisis rocking the country’s public university system, Easterner can report. This is coming many days after the expiration of the deadline set by the minister to address the conflicts between the striking university workers’ unions and the Nigerian government. The new development was confirmed to Easterner on Friday in an exclusive telephone conversation with the Director of Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong.
Mr Adamu had on 19 July told President Muhammadu Buhari that he could address the issues “within two to three weeks” if allowed to do so.
He said this when the concerned ministries, departments and agencies of government met the President to brief him on the status of the negotiations with the striking unions and the efforts to get the affected public universities reopened. The minister had claimed he had folded his arms all along following an alleged claim by his counterpart at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that the laws governing labour disputes empower him to be solely responsible for negotiations on behalf of the government.
The President had immediately ordered Mr Ngige to hand off the negotiation with the striking workers and that Mr Adamu should be supported by appropriate individuals and agencies to deploy his magic wand. However, more than three weeks after the pledge, which was confirmed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, via a statement, the affected public universities have remained shut. In fact, more than a week after the minister’s pledge, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) 1 August, announced further extension of the then five-month-old strike by four more weeks.
According to Mr Goong, the Minister would address the media at the State House on Thursday, 18 August.
Reacting to Easterner’ invitation extended to the minister to appear on its planned Twitter Spaces scheduled for Wednesday, 17 August, over the unending ASUU strike, Mr Goong said Mr Adamu would also speak to the media on Thursday.
“Yes you can quote me, the honourable minister will address the State House journalists on Thursday, next week,” Mr Goong said.
Asked about the details of the planned briefing, the spokesperson said he only knew that the minister would speak on the university workers’ strike, “among other issues.”
ASUU had on 14 February declared a nationwide strike for initial four weeks to demand better funding for the university system and improved remuneration for its members. Other unions within the university system- Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and other Associated Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) have also at different times declared separate industrial actions. The unions are demanding the adoption of the replacement of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) currently in use for the payment of their members’ entitlements with those designed by the unions.