The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige angrily left the meeting spearheaded by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila to end the crisis between the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Federal Government.
In the meeting that was held on Wednesday in Abuja, all the stakeholders from both parties were in attendance to resolve the issue.
The meeting, however, seemed to have been another deadlock when Ngige walked out after accusing ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke of calling the populace to vote out the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general elections.
Gbajabiamila called on the aggrieved parties to sheathe their swords and shift ground in the interest of the country and that of the students who have been away from their studies for seven months.
When Osodeke talked, he lamented that the salaries of the lecturers are paid from the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, which is not the order of the day in other countries.
Osodeke said, “Is there any country in the world where salaries of lectures are paid from the office of Accountant-General of the Federation? Where is the idea of the law? Let’s be patriotic to Nigeria. Are they using it in Central Bank (of Nigeria)? Are they using it in NITDA?
“So let’s respect the peculiarity rather than trying to put all of us into a small hole. And finally, sir! No country in the world will harvest the data of the academics, package (it) and give (it) to a foreign company. No country in the world! Thank you.”
At the turn of the Labour Minister to talk, he said, “Mr Speaker, sir! It is serious that ASUU President said that APC government kept children at home and that Nigerian people should vote them out.”
When someone said, “He didn’t say that.” Ngige stood up and headed for the exit, asking angrily “What did he say? What did he say?”
He did not storm out without tapping ASUU President on his shoulder, but the don responded, “Go and tell a lie to the public.”
Other government functionaries who spoke at the meeting were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, the Accountant-General of the Federation, Okoliaboh Sylva, the Director-General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze and the Director of IT Infrastructure, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Abdullahi Usman among others.
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