The federal government has confirmed that measures are being taken to reposition the country’s education system and save Nigerians from the unpalatable experience of continuing strikes ahead. This was announced by Labor Minister Chris Ngige on Friday, while praising the Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU), for obeying a court order directing the union to suspend its eight-month strike. Ngige commended the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the leadership of the House of Representatives, as well as all Nigerians who participated in various ways in the negotiations that led to the suspension of the strike.
A statement issued by the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Press and Public Relations, Olajide Oshundun, on Friday read: “We particularly appreciate the patriotic efforts of the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Sobu Ayukunle, all members of the Inter-Nigerian Council Interfaith (NIREC) and the Nigeria Catholic Bishops Conference, whose wisdom and intervention sparked a glimmer of hope during the strike in its infancy, but because of the stubbornness of the ASSUU, we were forced to take the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) established under the 1999 Constitution as amended; to settle industrial disputes because every channel of negotiation including the Additional Tripartite, in which prominent Nigerians participated, failed. We had no other choice but to carry out the activation of Section 17 of the Commercial Disputes Act, CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, on Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Request for Intervention of the National Industrial Court.
“Now that ASUU has decided to comply with the ruling of the National Industrial Court to overturn the devastating measure, we apologize to all students and parents, including His Excellency the Secretary, for this unjustified prolonged strike, which was unjustified from the start. We would like to assure you that with the decision, steps and measures taken by the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in a comprehensive reorganization of higher education, the foundation is being laid, and we are confident that it will save Nigerians this unpalatable experience of continuing strike in the future.
“We really hope that after the strike is called off, the National Industrial Court will deal with the substantive issues as set out in the letter of referral from His Excellency the Minister. This is to ensure justice for all parties including ASUU and employers – the Federal Department of Education, acting on behalf of the federal government. The Ministry will continue to cooperate with the two parties to find an amicable solution to other issues that were not submitted to the Industrial Court; also to find a permanent solution to the instability in the university system. We certainly could not be less grateful to the judiciary for deepening our working jurisprudence in support of the substance of the Third Amendment to the 1999 Constitution, particularly with regard to Articles 243 and 254a.”