By Joy Odor
The Federal government has reconstituted a team for the renegotiation of the 2009 Agreements between it and University-based unions, as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Team, which is categorised into substantive members, advisers and observers, is led by Professor Emeritus Munzali M. Jibril, with Amb. Chief Dr. (Mrs.) Nimota Nihinola Akanbi, Pro-Chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, University, Bauchi, Professor Emeritus Nimi Briggs, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, Senator (Dr.) Nkechi Nworgu among others as members.
The Executive Secretaries of National Universities Commission (NUC), TETFund Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, (CVC) and others, as well as selected federal Ministries, will serve as advisers.
The FGN team is expected to take another look at the 2009 agreements reached with the university-based Unions and work with each Union towards making far-reaching recommendations that would reposition the Nigerian university system.
The Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu at the inauguration on Wednesday in Abuja said the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders, in the past months, have been neck-deep in several meetings with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and others, to resolve the outstanding issues that led to the current industrial action in public universities.
He said most of the residual issues were part of the comprehensive agreement reached with the previous administration.
“I can report that significant progress has, so far, been recorded and there is an opportunity that our public universities, like their private counterparts, will soon reopen for academic activities” he said.
Alhaji Adamu re-affirmed the commitment of the present administration to finding lasting solutions to the challenges confronting the education sector, and most especially, the university sub-sector.
He said: “Government is determined to, within available resources, provide the requisite environment, infrastructure as well as improve the conditions of service for all categories of staff in Nigerian universities.”
The Minister expressed worried about the vicious cycle over the years of the myriad of industrial actions by one staff union or the other, saying,
“The cumulative effect has been the obvious loss of productive and precious man-hours direly needed by the universities to fulfil their tripod mandates of teaching, research and community action. All these have impacted negatively on our learning outcomes and the reputation of the Nigerian brand, which hitherto was the pride of the nation” the minister noted.