In a bid to end the continuous gridlock in the dialogue between the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and federal government, Vice President Namadi Sambo will henceforth take over the negotiation process.
For the first time since the commencement of the strike action by the union, the Vice President met with the leadership of the union at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, behind closed doors.
Nigerian Universities have been shut down for the past three months as a result of federal government's failure to honour an agreement signed between it and ASUU in 2009 bordering on issues of university funding and improvement of infrastructure in the sector.
Speaking to journalists at the Villa after the closed door meeting, the ASUU President, Nasir Fagge said that he was taking back a "message given to him at the meeting for his members" and Nigerians will have to wait for the response of his members on the way forward.
"We have had a meeting with the Vice President and he has given us a message to our members, and we said that as the messengers that we are, we are going to deliver the message faithfully to our members and then they will take the decision."
According to him: "I know Nigerians are expecting a solutions to the strike, we also want a solution, but I have been given a message to our members. The message is not for Nigerians, it is for our members.
"If I deliver the message, our principal will decide and we will get back to the ministry of education within this week".
While Fagge declined comments on the content of the message in respect of what the government was offering the union, it was not clear if government was offering anything new in addition to the earlier offer of N100 billion and N30 billion meant for infrastructure development in various universities and payment of verified earned allowances respectively.
He insisted that he will first take the message to the people it was meant for before making it public it can be made public.
"Well, we have had a meeting with the Vice President and he has given us a message to our members. I will say that like the messengers we are, we are going to take the message faithfully to our members and then our members will take their decision. And then, we will get back to the minister of education. That's the situation," he said.
Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike who was also at the meeting, explained that the meeting had been convened to find a lasting solution to the crisis to ensure that students quickly retuned to school.
FG, ASUU Strike New Fruitful DealAccording to Wike, who said the deliberation was fruitful, "One is quite hopeful that ASUU is committed, they have the passion and that there is the need for us to move the education sector forward.
"ASUU coming to discuss means that they are committed on their own part and that the federal government is also committed. We have gone very far, we believe that in no distance time, you will have a very good result."
Also on the ASUU delegate were two former Presidents of ASUU, Dipo Fasina and Abdullahi Sule-Kano.
The government delegation was led by the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike with the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Julius Okojie, with Vice Chancellors of Bayero University Kano (BUK), University of Ibadan (UI) and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, Abdulrasheed Abubakar, Isaac Adewole and Muhammed Hamisu Muhammed.