The FEDERAL government has offered to pay the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, a cumulative sum of N65 billion for earned allowances for all unions in the university system and the revitalization fund.
A statement by the Deputy Director/Head, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Charles Akpan, said “ASUU has to choose between two proposed split of the money which is N40 billion for earned allowances and N25 billion for the revitalization fund, and N35 billion for earned allowances and N30 billion for revitalization fund.”
The statement noted that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, had made this known in Abuja at the end of a meeting between the federal government and the leadership of ASUU as a follow-up of meetings on resolving the dispute that led to the ongoing industrial action.
On earned allowances, Ngige said, “the federal government’s offer of N40 billion or N35 billion, whichever is accepted by ASUU, is for all university unions.”
He said ASUU would consult with its various organs on that offer and get back to the government with a decision next week when the meeting would reconvene.
On the outcome of the meeting, he said, “On government’s side, we regard this meeting as a conclusive one, the final of finals. We discussed passionately and touched on all the issues.”
The minister noted that the government has reconsidered its former position on a number of issues in order to accommodate the yearnings of ASUU, especially on the mode of payment of salaries/allowances during the transition period while the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, UTAS, is undergoing integrity tests.
According to him, “Government has shifted position on the issues of the revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, payment of withheld salaries and mode of payment for the transition period whilst ASUU’s platform, UTAS, is being tested by the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA.”
On the mode of payment, Ngige disclosed that the government has rethought its position and agreed with ASUU that “the mode of payment applied for those not on the IPPIS platform between the months of February and June be adopted for the purpose of payment during this transition period.”
However, the meeting agreed that “a suitable template that will address all the anomalies identified in the previous processes should be handled by the Accountant-General of the Federation, executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, and vice-chancellors.”
The meeting also agreed that the ministers of education and labour and employment would continue working to get approval for the payment of the withheld salaries of ASUU.
The issue arose from the ‘No work, no pay’ stipulation in ‘Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria LFN, 2004’.
The meeting acknowledged that the integrity tests on UTAS and other protocols are progressing satisfactorily with ASUU requesting that the process be accelerated.
Ngige stated that the visitation panels earlier approved by President Muhammadu Buhari would be inaugurated in the coming week, adding that they would end their work on December 31, a date earlier agreed on in previous meetings.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, the President, ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, acknowledged that the government had given the union new offers, saying they would get back to the government with a response from their organs.