The team set up by the federal government to negotiate with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says dialogue is the most effective way of resolving the lingering dispute between the union and the government.
University lecturers across the country are currently on strike to protest the alleged refusal of government to meet their demands.
While declaring the strike on Sunday, Abiodun Ogunyemi, national president of ASUU, said the union took the decision due to the poor funding of universities in the country, failure on the side of the government to honour the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the union and the federal government in 2017.
Ogunyemi said all appeal made to the federal government to honour the agreement with the union fell on deaf ears, saying they had no other alternative but to begin the strike.
But speaking at a press conference in Lagos on Saturday, Wale Babalakin, chairman of the panel, said there is need for ASUU to reconsider its action.
“Our attention has been drawn to the several statements made by Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, President of the ASUU and echoed by various zonal heads and other members of the same union,” he said.
“As we had stated in our previous communication on this matter, we believe that negotiations are best done on the table rather than on the pages of the newspapers, hence we have been very reluctant to respond to the campaign of our co-negotiators.
“Our position is that dialogue on the same table is the most effective way of resolving issues.
“Unfortunately, we are compelled to respond to the allegations by ASUU which have been made in the print and electronic media because some Nigerians may begin to believe the inaccurate narratives that have been consistently provided by ASUU.
“Our position as a team is that, Nigerians deserve and should have quality education. This must not be compromised as a result of inadequate funding which has been the situation in the last 30 years.”
Babalakin said government would need over N2 trillion to meet the demands of the union.
He said such amount is not too much to invest in education but the resources are not available at the moment.
“We also believe that no Nigerian should be deprived of university education because of his/her financial circumstance,” he said.
“This position is consistent with that of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Going by the figures provided by ASUU, Nigeria requires over 2 trillion per annum to fund university education.
“This figure exceeds in value the total amount of money available for all capital projects in Nigeria including Health, Infrastructure, Security and others. No doubt that if the money were available for university education as ASUU has insisted it is, the government will have no difficulty in spending it on university education.
“However, as it is, government cannot ignore all other areas of expenditure that require funding.
“We urge all well-meaning Nigerians to appeal to ASUU to return to the negotiating table and resolve issues based on accurate information and verifiable data. We remain committed to a permanent resolution of the recurrent industrial disputes that have militated against the progress of the Nigerian University System. We are determined to ensure that Nigerians receive proper education.”