Chris Steven, Abuja
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, has dispelled speculations of uncertainty over talks between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
A statement by Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, said the Minister of Labour and Employment as the chief conciliator of industrial disputes in the country and the Minister of Education whose Ministry is the employer of the university lecturers are still leading the talks.
The statement further said that the consultation at the office of the Vice President by both Ministers after last Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting was in consolidation of the negotiations so far held with ASUU.
“The Vice President has not taken over the matter. The meeting in his office was in consolidation of negotiations. Engagement of the striking ASUU members is still being handled by Ministers of Labour and Employment and the Minister of Education.”
“Issues of strike by an employee is a labour matter.
“The Minister of Labour and Employment is therefore synergising with his Education counterpart where the strike occurred to resolve the dispute.
“Just as the Minister of Labour and Employment led negotiation with the National Association of Resident Doctors in conjunction with the Minister of Health, the same applies in the case of ASUU.
“As a matter of fact, the Minister of Education reported progress on the issue to the Federal Executive Council and together with the Labour Minister held a meeting with the Vice President subsequently.
“This is normal procedure in government where Ministers brief/report to the President or Vice President to streamline efforts and gains in a given assignment. But that does not entail such assignment is no more being handled by the Minister charged with the responsibility.
The statement added that the Minister of Labour specifically told reporters that government negotiating team on ASUU strike was to meet with the Vice President.
“It was reporters that erroneously interpreted it to mean the Vice President has taken over negotiation, it concluded.”
It said conciliation with the university lecturers will resume immediately after the Sallah break as requested by ASUU.