Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said he has been in internal turmoil over the protracted strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Adamu spoke at a meeting with vice-chancellors and pro-chancellors of federal universities at the National Universities Commission in Abuja on Tuesday.
University lecturers had declared a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike following FG’s failure to grant their demands.
The union had also accused Adamu and Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, of misinforming Nigerians about the lingering industrial action.
Speaking in Abuja, Adamu said he had been in a dark period or personal anguish as a result of the strike.
The Minister bemoaned the closure of public universities for months, charging federal government and other stakeholders to rise up to action.
He said: “For me, the past two weeks have been a very dark period of personal anguish and internal turmoil. I used to deceive myself that in a climate of frankness, and with mutual goodwill, it will fall to my lot to bring an end to the incessant strikes in the education sector.
“This has not proved possible, or, at least, not as easy, quickly and straightforward, as I used to think.
“Distinguished Chairmen, vice-chancellors, I called you today not to share with you my anguish but to share with you the details of what we have done and what remains to be done. And certainly, a lot remains to be done. But for very different reasons, the current positions of government and ASUU on the future of negotiations seem not to have coincided.
“For me, this is a position I would have wanted us to reach after an amicable resolution of all the issues contained in the 2009 Agreements. It appears that we are running ahead of the negotiations but not for the right reasons. The President of ASUU has been reported to have said the Union would no longer negotiate with the current Federal Government.
“This position must be resisted. Government and ASUU have no option than to continue talking until our universities have reopened their doors to students, who clearly are the principal victims of the seemingly unending strikes. In the circumstances, therefore, all Councils and Senates of our universities are enjoined to rise up to their responsibilities.
“We must, together, continue to work to restore our public universities to where they were in the 60s and 70s. As the most important officers in our university system, Pro-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors, must demonstrate more commitment to ending the ongoing strike.
“As Chairmen of Councils and Senates – the highest policy and academic bodies in the system – you must consider it your paramount duty to promote policies and actions that will discourage industrial disputes in our campuses. Government will continue to support the physical and academic development of its universities.
“Government will continue to reasonably enhance the working conditions of all university staff, academic and non-teaching.
“The main challenge, as you are fully aware, is dwindling resources available to address all the concerns of the citizenry. We thank you for your support, understanding and sacrifices.”
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