By starrys Obazei
As Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU strike) nears its end with the order given to Dr. Chris Ngige an Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu by the President, Major-General Muhammed Buhari to end the strike within two or three weeks. The lecturers won a major battle yesterday as the government is now ready to meet most of their demands.
According to the President, the negotiation is now solely restricted between the Ministry of Education and ASUU with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Ngige acting as conciliator.
“A Nigerian Labour Congress source revealed qualities of the President not quite publicly known, saying, “As it is now President Buhari is heating up and has no toleration any longer for any further elongation of the strike.
“The President feels that history will not be fair to him for destroying public university system and future of Nigeria youth.
“Comparing the salaries of professors in some African counties and seeing that the Nigerian professors earn the least, Buhari wants them to earn $1,300 a month.
“This is not surprising,” said the Nigeria Labour Congress source, who added that “Buhari has a soft spot for oppressed Nigerian workers.”
He explained that without much publicity and media analyses, Buhari surprised Nigeria Airways and Nigerian Telecommunications (NITEL) retirees by paying them monthly pensions now while their outstanding arrears are still being considered.
“Agitations or not, Buhari paid NITEL workers, who do not even have a workers’ union unlike Nigeria Airways,” the source said.
It was reported yesterday that a 100 per cent pay rise was being put forward and that the President had waded into the crisis.
But there is more cause for optimism as universities may also immediately get over N320billion revitalization funds out of the outstanding N1.3trillion promised by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to a reliable source, Buhari stamped his feet at a session he had with Adamu and Dr. Ngige in the Presidential Villa.
The source said the President wanted an immediate solution to the closure of universities.
“Buhari put a caveat that the terms of the agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU must be completed within two to three weeks so that universities can reopen.”
A government source, also said the Buhari administration has agreed to pay enhanced salaries to the lecturers and it may release a quarter of the outstanding N1.3trillion revitalization funds agreed by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The source added: “About N320billion Revitalization Funds may soon be released to universities.
“The NUC was forthright in saying that the pay of a Professor in Nigeria was lower than in other countries.
“Some of the monthly pay highlights of a professor were as follows: South Africa ($5,200) for a Professor; Rwanda ($2,900); Uganda/Ghana ($1,000); Kenya ($2,000); Nigeria ($690).
“The government has accepted to increase the pay of a varsity professor to $1,300 per month.