The Federal Government has reached an agreement with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who disclosed this late Monday in Abuja while addressing journalists after a meeting with the striking lecturers, said majority of the union’s demands have been met including the release of N15.4 billion for payment of salary shortfalls.
“On the issue of salaries in tertiary institutions, especially in universities, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant- General provided evidence that as at December 31, 2018 the Federal Government had remitted N15.4 billon.
“Also on the issue of Earned Allowances in the universities system, they also showed us evidence that Mr President has approved the N20 billion to be used to offset the outstanding arrears of the 2009 and 2012, audit verified earnings, in the university system. “This money is being worked on, and will be released to ASUU as soon as the process is completed,” he added.
Ngige noted that the meeting had resolved to mandate the Ministry of Education to get in touch with the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) to ensure that a permanent licence is issued to ASUU as soon as possible, as the union has submitted all the documents and fulfilled all conditions needed to get their license, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
He further stressed that the issue of visitation panel have been taken care of, and the government has offered ASUU some token to show good faith on the issue of revitalising 20 universities annually for the next 6 years, as contained in the 2009 agreement between both parties, pledging government’s commitment to look for resources for the funding.
“These were major issues discussed and ASUU is supposed to take back the resolution of these meetings to their members, while we expect that they will get back to us by Thursday,” he said.
Speaking on the development, ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, said the National Executive Committee of the union will review their decisions based on the new commitment by the government, stressing that the union can only announce its position on the ongoing strike action after a meeting of its leadership.
The university teachers had embarked on an indefinite strike early November, accusing the government of not implementing the Memorandum of Action signed with it after “all entreaties made to the Federal Government to honour the agreement with the union fell on deaf ears.”
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.