The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige has disclosed that the Federal Government has agreed to release the sum of 220billion Naira as revitalisation funds to public Universities in Nigeria.
This agreement is one of the outcomes of the extensive deliberations, negotiations and meetings that followed the indefinite strike announced by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The ASUU’s President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi told newsmen that the new terms of agreement between the union and federal government would be ratified at the National Executive Committee meeting expected to hold next week before ASUU reverts back to government on its next line of action.
Professor Ogunyemi admitted that the proposals made by government were concrete for the time being.
“We have had useful deliberations and we had some concrete proposals that we will take back to our members as part of our consultations. And like the Honourable Minister of Labour has said, we plan to come back here to take decisions as advised by our members,” Ogunyemi said.
Ngige, said that beyond the pledge to release the sum of N220 billion not later than October 2017 to fund the revitalization of federal universities across the country, government had began the payment of earned allowances of ASUU members.
In a meeting that had in attendance the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters Senator Ita Enang, newly appointed Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Bolaji Adebiyi including ASUU’s executive, led by its President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, Ngige said “We have concluded negotiations, the government and the leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU.
“There’s one funding for revitalization of public universities and the issue of Earn Academic Allowances, EAA, the issue of Staff Schools that there was a court judgement, the issue of National Universities Pension Commission, and the issue of salary shortfalls for lecturers and staff of universities.
“There is also the issue of TSA exemption and the problems in the state universities. All are the issues that ASUU felt that government should address.
“On the issue of funding for the revitalization of public universities, we have discussed in detail and extensively on that. This is the fund that would be needed for the revitalization of public universities in terms of their working tools and other things needed for effective performance of their duties.
“There was an agreement from the MoU of 2009 and that of 2013, for government to be making some quarterly payments into this fund. And from 2014 to date, it has not been possible for government to pay or they didn’t pay. But this government has been negotiating with ASUU since last year.
“Today, there’s is a government proposal which we all agreed that it can be workable. But ASUU has to take back this proposal to their organs, so we have decided that there’s an agreement for government to make some funds available in September and October to show that they are not repudiating their agreement and to also show a good sign of faith.
“ASUU will also send in their proposal for testing terms of reference for the committee to the minister. We expect that that will be done today since today is already a Friday.
“Government is though not appealing, we have agreed that the decision should be conveyed to the various universities.
“Issue of NUPENCO was also addressed and ways have been fashioned out for the registration of that company.
“Salary shortfalls for lecturers and university staff were also addressed and government has shown their commitment and evidence that payments have started in order to liquidate the outstanding allowances.
“The issue of TSA exemption was also discussed and an agreement or proposal was muted by which the Central Bank would a special account for that in order for endowment funds and research grants will be exempted,” the Labour Minister said.
“Based on these discussions, ASUU leadership will consult with its organs and revert back to government within one week. They will consult with their organs with a view to calling off the strike. And we expect them that within one week, they will get back to government.
“These are the highlights of the meeting and I can tell you that the meeting took place in a very cordial atmosphere,” he concluded.