The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has advised the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to end their strike as ordered by the National Industrial Court.
The court on Wednesday in Abuja ordered the striking lecturers to return to the classroom following a suit filed by the federal government.
Mr Ngige said the injunction does not foreclose further negotiations.
“For me, they should do the needful and go back to the classroom,” the minister said on Wednesday when he hosted visiting members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics in his office.
Mr Ngige said the government would soon direct vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the order of court.
“The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations,’’ he said.
ASUU began its strike on February 14 to demand that the federal government revisit some agreements signed between them in 2009 and also to improve on varsity funding and payment of earned allowances.
The lecturers also want the federal government to shelve its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in paying lecturers’ salaries.
The federal government uses the IPPIS platform to pay its employees.
They demanded that rather than its IPPIS, the government should adopt the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, the payment platform designed by the universities themselves to pay lecturers.
The minister told his visitors that the Industrial Court’s ruling was in the best interest of Nigeria and its people.
According to him, the ruling is a win-win for the government, for students, for lecturers and for all Nigerians.
“It is a no victor, no vanquished.
“You doctors in academics are for now members of ASUU, but you are here; even though you have dissociated yourselves and you are working.
“We want to thank you for working and teaching your students,’’ the minister said.
He noted that pro-chancellors of universities had met with President Muhammadu Buhari and made some demands that included topping up the government’s offer and seeing whether there could be some bailout.
Mr Ngige added that the president had assured that he would consult with stakeholders on the request.
The minister also commended the House of Representatives for intervening in the ASUU imbroglio.
Mr Ngige said that he was happy that the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, also assured that principal officers of the House would meet with President Buhari over the strike.
He explained that whatever money that would be approved to meet some of the demands would go into the 2023 budget.
“Since the House has shown interest now, it is good and wonderful. When they bring that proposal, the Executive will not have any problem.
“ASUU should also know that this is a step in the right direction. All these things have been promised by the Minister of Education at their last meeting.