In an effort to end the ongoing ASUU strike, the Federal Government has said it is committed to spending N200 billion in the 2014 budget on universities in Nigeria for about three to four years until the universities are brought to world-class standard. This is in addition to the N100 billion dedicated and already made available for 2013.
The government has also increased to N40 billion as a first installment for the funds in payment of earned allowances to the striking lecturers, which is an improvement from the N30 billion previously released.
According to sources, the information is s contained in an internal statement made by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bolaji Aluko of Federal University of Otuoke and was seen on Wednesday by Sahara reporters.
On the earned allowances, he explained, “Government will top it up with further releases once universities are through with the disbursement of this new figure of N40 million, so Vice-Chancellors are urged to expedite this disbursement within the shortest possible time using guiding templates that have been sent by the CVC,” the circular said.
Professor Aluko said the development followed meetings on September 19 and Oct 11 of representatives of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, led by CVC Chairman, Prof. Hamisu of ATBU and ASUU Representatives led by its President, Dr. N. Fagge with the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Arc. Namadi. Sambo, Minister of Education Barr. N. Wike and others.
Of great interest to stakeholders, Vice-President Sambo, appealing to ASUU to call off the strike, apologized for the “take-it-or-leave-it” comments credited to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the onset of the strike. The Minister did not seem to have been involved in either meeting, perhaps as the government’s way of soothing the feelings of the university teachers.
Other points of agreement at the meetings include the following:
Project Prioritization: Universities will now be allowed to determine their priorities and not be “rail-roaded” into implementing a pre-determined set of projects with respect to the NEEDS assessment. Decisions are not to be centralized.
TETFund Intervention: Government assured that the operations of the TETFund will not be impaired, and that the regular TETFund intervention disbursement to Universities will continue, unaffected. So the NEEDS assessment capital outlays are in addition to regular TETFund intervention.
Project Monitoring: A new Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) for the NEEDS Assessment intervention for universities has been set up to take over from the Suswan Committee. The new one is under the Federal Ministry of Education and chaired by the Honorable Minister of Education. In addition, to build confidence and ensure faithful implementation and prevent any relapse as before, the Vice President will meet quarterly with the IMC to monitor progress.
Blueprint: ASUU was mandated to submit a blue print for revitalizing the Universities to the Vice President.
Prof. Aluko further stated that a signed document will soon be issued to itemize the full issues on which the consensus he had outlined here, as brokered by AVCNU, was reached.