The Nigerian House of Representatives has responded to claims of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, that the Speaker, Rt Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, tricked them into calling off the strike.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ben Kalu, the House spokesperson, claimed that the Speaker never agreed or promised the lecturers payment of arrears.
It will be recalled that the eight-month long strike by university lecturers was called off following an intervention of the House of Representatives.
The National Industrial Court had also ordered ASUU to terminate the strike back then. The federal government further pushed on its no-work, no-pay policy.
In a Tuesday interview, Prof. Osodeke said that the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had broken the terms of the deal struck with the union.
Reacting to the allegation, Kalu said that at “no point did the Speaker of the House of Representatives commit to offset the arrears of salaries owed to union members for the time they were on strike.”
He said that the House’s commitment is only reflected in the the 2023 Appropriation Bill, which includes N170 billion to offer a level of increase in the welfare package of university lecturers and an extra N300 billion in revitalization funds.
Kalu further accused the ASUU President of “taking a bad-faith approach to negotiations,” and that “his affinity for political brinksmanship is a key reason the universities were on strike for so long.”