ASUU strike: I have one of my children at home as we speak – Minister


To find a lasting solution to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is now to lead the Federal Government’s negotiation team with the teachers.

ASUU has been on strike since August 13 over the failure of the government to implement an agreement it reached with the union in 2009.

The union also alleged that the Federal Government did not implement the Memorandum of Understanding the two sides signed in 2013.

The union, in a statement on Tuesday, said it would call off its strike after receiving a positive response to its demands from the Federal Government.

The teachers boycotted a meeting scheduled to hold between the government and the union on Tuesday.

Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige briefed State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ngige, who was with the Ministers of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, also blamed the private sector for the delay in announcing the chairman of the Minimum Wage Review Committee.

According to him, the Federal Government is ready and will announce the chairman of the committee when all the names of representatives of the private sector is received.

He said: “The government thanked the parents and even the students who are supposed to take their exams and promotional exams now but have been forced by circumstances beyond their control to stay at home. I have one of my children at home as we speak.

“Government is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that we reach a conclusive agreement with ASUU so that they can go back to the classroom. This is the first national strike that this government is facing and we want to discuss.

“The Vice President has taken over some of the aspects of the negotiations and discussions, so we are continuing the meeting in his office and when we finish meeting, we will get back to ASUU for another round of meeting and we are hopeful that we will be able to go to an appreciable extent to solve some of the outstanding issues that is preventing them from going back to work,” he said.

The Federal Government, he said, is ready and will announce the chairman of the Minimum Wage Review Committee when all the names of representatives of the private sector are received.

He said: “The National Minimum Wage Committee, the government side is ready. We have on the government side four ministers – ministers of Labour and Employment, Finance, Budget and Planning. I can’t remember the last one now but we have our team ready. We also have the Head of Service of the Federation, Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation on the government team. The chairman will be unveiled when we have full component of the committee.

“The aspect that is delaying us from inaugurating the committee is the organised private sector. The organised private sector has eight representatives of which the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) has four nominations, we have not gotten their nominations. Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has two nominations; their nominations just came in yesterday. Nigeria Association of Small Medium Enterprise (NASME) has one; they have not sent in their nomination. NACCIMA has not sent in its nominations.

“So we are waiting fir these nominations. When they come in, the government will nominate the chairman and inaugurate the committee.” he added

Fashola said FEC approved the award of engineering and electromechanical works contract worth $5.792 billion for the Mambila Hydro Electric Power Plant located in Taraba State.

Recalling that the project started in 1972, he noted that there has been no significant progress since its inception.

According to him, the contract now awarded to a joint venture with a Chinese Civil Engineering Company (CCECC) will be completed in about six years.

On the scope of work to be handled by the firm, the minister said: “The project requires the construction of four dams; one of them is about 150 meters in height, the immediate two are 70 meters in height and the smallest of them is 50 meters in height.

“It also includes 700 kilometers of transmission line. It will be in Taraba State in the area called Gembu, and it will unleash the potential that have been reported about Mambila, including agriculture, tourism and energy,” he said.

When completed, Fashola said, the project will help Nigeria strike a big blow on the climate change and fulfill its commitment under the Paris Agreement.

Explaining how the joint venture will work, Fashola said: “You will recall that sometimes last year, the Chinese government held a summit in South Africa; essentially what that was about was supporting and partnering with African government to do their infrastructure and also funding the Agurua projects. So, this was one of the projects of infrastructure that was submitted there and I think it also had the rail component.

“The money is coming from the Chinese government through their Exim bank, so it is an export funding support for them and an import funding for us; 85 percent is supposed to be financed by them and 15 per cent is our own counterpart funding. The award now triggers contract negotiations for the financing side and after that is concluded the projects can now start.”

Mambilla will generate 3,050 megawatts of power. “The productive output will be a function of water supply, because that is the major source of fuel, its a hydroplane,” Fashola said.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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