by Adeola Balogun
Despite continued efforts and promises of more financing made by the Federal Government, striking lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have refused to budge.
According to reports, despite a meeting to seek resolution yesterday, the lecturers insisted that the three-month-old strike would go on.
The Nation reports:
More cash has been pledged for projects on the campuses. Besides, the earned allowances due to the teachers have been increased from the initial N30 billion offer, which the rejected. The teachers are insisting on the 2009 agreement, which they say President Goodluck Jonathan was part of. Besides, they say, they do not trust the government.
According to a circular by the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, to the staff of the school, quoted yesterday by the news website, Sahara Reporters, the government has pledged to spend N200 billion on the universities in the 2014 budget and the same amount annually for the next three to four years.
This is in addition to the N100 billion already made available this year, but which ASUU has rejected.
The government has also increased to N40 billion, as a first installment, funds for the payment of earned allowances to the striking lecturers – an improvement from the N30 billion previously released.
On the earned allowances, Aluko said: “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.
Aluko said the latest development followed meetings on September 19 and Oct 11 of representatives of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, led by its Chairman, Prof. Hamisu of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) and ASUU representatives led by its President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, with Vice-President Namadi Sambo and Minister of Education Nyesome Wike.
A source in the Ministry of Education last night also confirmed that the meeting took place.
“But the government decided to leave the announcement of the decision to the ASUU chiefs,” the source said.
It was gathered that Sambo urged ASUU to call off the strike, as he apologised for the “take-it-or-leave-it” comments credited to Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the beginning 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.