?The meeting continues next week Monday. We made some progress, we had very fruitful discussion with ASUU and we have agreed we are to meet again on Monday at about three o?clock. When we meet again we will be able to arrive at some decisions?, stated the governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan who is the Chairman of the Presidential Universities Needs Assessment Committee ? following the end of another deadlocked meeting on Monday night ? between representatives of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government. The meeting lasted for 3 hours behind closed doors.
Following the end of the meeting, the governor of Benue State, Suswan, in an effort to present an optimistic front ? indicated that the strike would soon be over ? as the remainder of the issues would most likely be resolved on Monday August 19, 2013. But the ASUU President Comrade Nasir Isa Fagge was not in tune with the optimistic front presented by the Benue Governor. He refused to speak with the reporters that had gathered to talk with him. He directed them to Suswan ? pointing out that Suswan is the government?s negotiator ? ?he knows what agreements were reached in our closed door meeting?.
Feelers from sources privy of the points of discussion between the two entities indicate that the meeting on Monday night may have set the possible terms of agreement back to ?square one?. The source reveals that the federal government has laid their terms on the table ? lamenting that financial limitation would not allow for the ASUU conditions to be met.
Nonetheless, while reporters interacted with Governor Suswan after the deadlocked meeting, he was reminded of his previous promise to conclude the talks this week. He quickly retorted saying ?No, I said between one and two weeks. There is nothing wrong; you know we introduced some new faces, the minister of finance; you agree with me she is attending the meeting for the first time and also the Director General Budget. Now that Finance is coming, we are getting close to resolving it because the strike is about settling some debts and also intervening in the universities and so she is here and she also has contributed.?
He continued ?We believe that when we meet next week Monday with ASUU we would have moved from where we are to the next stage. I can assure Nigerians that the President has taken this seriously as you can see the Minister of Finance and two ministers of education, Distinguished Senator, DG Budget, Minister of Labour, every person who should be here is here to show concern. I have spent so much time as governor being part of this which shows the seriousness which the President attaches to what is happening in the education sector. As I leave here, we are going to the second meeting which is on the Needs Assessment. We want to make sure that we solve this problem so we are holding meetings round the clock.
?We are making progress in the negotiations and we hope that we will be able to solve this problem soonest. The stage that we are now we are hoping that when we meet next week, we should be able to conclude on the discussion. The fact that we were unable to conclude today does not mean that the meeting is deadlocked; very fruitful meeting and I believe that when we meet next week, we will arrive at some conclusion. That is what I can tell you.?