Return To Negotiation Table, Bayelsa Government Beg Asuu
The Bayelsa State Government has pleaded with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Niger Delta University branch, to consider government’s position and return to the negotiation table.
Lecturers of the state-owned university had embarked on an indefinite strike since April this year over months of unpaid salaries.
The government, which spoke on Saturday through Governor Seriake Dickson’s Special Adviser on Political Matters (1), Mr. Fyneman Wilson, explained that the lecturers’ return to dialogue would be of benefit to the government, ASUU and most especially to the students if the institution is reopened.
Wilson said Dickson was mindful of the current economic situation in the country and the state and its effects on the people of the state.
He said the governor was genuinely and strategically doing everything within his ability to cushion the effect by way of instalmental payments of the backlog of salaries based on the inflow of funds from the federal allocation.
The political adviser said, “Recently, the state government and ASUU in a meeting agreed on a number of issues, prominent among the resolutions reached was that the government will pay the January 2016 salaries and half salaries for the months of March and April.
“It is already a public knowledge that government has paid January 2016 salaries and is waiting for ASUU to get back to government on discussions with its members on whether they will accept the half salaries as proposed by the government.
“The government also appealed to ASUU to reopen the university while talks are ongoing.”
Wilson said while the governmment had faithfully kept its part of the bargain by paying January salaries, with a commitment that it would pay two months’ half salaries, the ASUU had allegedly refused to reopen the institution and was demanding full payments of four months.
While sympathising with the students on the four months’ closure of the school, he noted that governments all over the world would rather accept dialogue and peaceful resolution of issues rather than resorting to break down of law and order, and that Bayelsa is no exception.
He said in spite of the fact that the students had used last Wednesday’s protest to express their displeasure over the shutting down of NDU, he rationalised that the students had also allowed themselves to be infiltrated by the opposition party.
He, therefore, appealed to the students to be patient with government and also explore non-violent means of persuading ASUU to call off the strike and return to the negotiation table with government.
On the criticism surrounding the recent passage of a bill by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for the establishment of the African International University, a public-private initiative, Wilson said the institution was part of the government’s commercialisation strategy.
He added, “The state welcomes investors to partner with government to invest in any aspect of our economy.
”It should furthermore be noted that in this arrangement, the Bayelsa State Government is to only provide the land where the institution will be built and also provide the legal and regulatory framework to guide the institution.”