Nigerian Varsities to remain shut as FG, ASUU talks collapse again
The Wednesday meeting between the federal government and Academic Staff Union of Universities has collapsed again without a resolution.
Wednesday’s meeting was expected to finally break the ice in the disagreement to pave the way for resumption of academic activities.
ASUU in March declared an indefinite strike following the lecturers’ opposition to the federal government’s move to enforce the use of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The strike action is also to compel the federal government to implement the agreements and resolutions reached in the 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, as well as the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the 2017 Memorandum of Action (MoU).
In order to resolve the issues that led to the strike, both parties have been holding meetings.
On Wednesday, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Abubakar Rasheed, were absent from the meeting.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, the labour minister, Chris Ngige, said the government cannot pay the N110 billion ASUU is demanding for the revitalization of universities.
“There are three issues, revitalization fund where the government offered ASUU N20 billion as a sign of good faith based on the MoU they entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation they had with the government in 2009,” he said.
Mr Ngige said the government is still committed to the revitalization of public universities.
“While we are giving them offers of some fund, this government is not against revitalization but this government says that because of dire economic situation, because of COVID-19, we cannot really pay the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalization,” he said.
Ngige said the government offered N20 billion as revitalization fund. On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the government offered N30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making a total of N50 billion.
“ASUU is saying that the N30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this N30 billion,” he said
He said a third issue, which he described as the cardinal issue, is the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus IPPIS.
“Today ASUU submitted their document on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you know last week, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test. This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA,” he said.
“One other issue that has arisen is the issue of the transition period. How do you get the Earned Academic Allowances that is due to you or any other entitlement that the government wants to pay you? They want an exemption from IPPIS and the government side headed by the Accountant General of the Federation said that IPPIS is the only government-approved payment platform. So that is where were are for now,” he said.
Mr Ngige said the government team is going back to their principals and ‘’the union will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what the federal government has to offer.”
He said the federal government’s representatives in the conciliation meeting will reconvene on Friday to agree on the government’s final position.
“The government side will meet on Friday and after that, we will communicate ASUU and in communicating them, if there is a need for a meeting, a date will be fixed for it,” he said.
After the meeting, ASUU President Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, said “there was nothing new”. He declined to elaborate.
The union on Wednesday accused the government of using hunger to punish its members during the strike.
It accused the Accountant-General of the Federation (AuGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris, of frustrating the resolution process between the parties during in the protracted face-off.
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