University teachers are seeking audience with President Goodluck Jonathan.
They delivered yesterday a letter containing the request to the Supervising Minister for Education, Chief. Nyesom Wike.
Also, top leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), led by National President, Dr. Nasir Issa Fagge, converged yesterday on Abuja for the last stage of discussions with the Federal Government.
The leaders were awaiting the President�s invitation on the three conditions they tabled for the almost five -month strike to be called off.
The conditions are:
� commitment from the President that any review or reconsideration or renegotiation of the 2009 Agreement will not substantially affect the Agreement which is the cause of the ongoing strike;
� immediate payment of all outstanding salary arrears and allowances of varsity teachers without victimisation; and
�a written commitment from the President that the Federal Government will commit N225billion annually to the funding of universities for the next four years.
ASUU�s letter was delivered to the Minister through its Liaison Officer in Abuja.
But the minister has described the demand as outrageous.
Wike said: �I will have to see Mr. President to see how the government can go about this development, which is not favourable. It is outrageous. ASUU is now making fresh demands and this will definitely need further discussion.�
In the letter, the union demanded that it would want the last tranche of the negotiation with the Federal Government to be witnessed by President of the Nigeria Labour Congress(NLC) Abduwaheed Omar and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN).
A top source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said ASUU leaders were determined to see that any agreement with the Federal Government has legal binding.
The source said: �ASUU leaders are not ready to take anything for granted this time around; every clause in whatever is agreed upon will have legal effect on the two parties.
�This is why ASUU leaders have asked for the NLC President and the AGF to be present. They do not want a situation where the government will deny such agreement in the near future.
�It was amazing how the government had been faulting the 2009 Agreement, which it was part of. This shows that ASUU must be extremely careful.�
There were indications also that the Federal Government was also firming up its position on the conditions set by ASUU.
A Presidency source said: �The government is also weighing options on the demands of ASUU especially the aspects relating to financial commitment.
�You know, what the government spends has to depend on what it earns. If there is a binding financial commitment and there is global recession in the oil industry, will government now look for money at all cost?
�This is one grey area of the pending agreement on which the two parties must reach a compromise.�
A source close to ASUU however said varsity students may stay at home till next year when the government will be ready to meet the union�s demand.
The source said the government�s plan is to deceive ASUU into calling off the strike and still not implement the 2009 agreement.
�ASUU will not chicken out of its fight. The death of Iyayi has further deepened our resolve to ensure that government implements the 2009 agreement. This fight is for the university community and not for ASUU. Many people are insinuating that we are fighting for the 2009 to be implemented to favour ASUU. They can say whatever they like that will not deter us.
�Government knows what to do. But people in the same government are mismanaging public funds which can be used to implement the said FG/ASUU agreement. Many of us at the ASUU session at Mambayya House in Kano resolved that government must meet the 2009 agreement.�
Wike yesterday condemned new conditions which the union insists must be met before a truce could be achieved.
Wike spoke during his meeting with Commissioners of Education in Abuja.
He confirmed that ASUU had given new conditions to call off the strike.
The Minister at the meeting with the commissioners assured them of the readiness of the Federal Government to support state governments in the development of education.