The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, is in talks with the Federal Government over measures to be taken in other to forestall industrial action by the union.
This is even as the Federal Government said it will commence the disbursement of N30 billion revitalization funds to universities owned by it soon.
The Guardian reports that Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, disclosed this in his office following a meeting between ASUU and the FG, which was aimed at evaluating the level of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties in December 2020 and the resolutions of the follow-up meeting held on August 2, this year.
Speaking after the meeting, Ngige told the press that the parties had a productive meeting, adding that the issues on the agenda were reasonably addressed.
The Minister according to the reports, gave the assurance that the government was eager to make the university system excellent, and added that the government was interested in ensuring the fitness of public universities as a learning and research place.
He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to uplifting the standard of Nigerian universities, saying it would try as much as possible within its limited resources to make meaningful contribution to the development of the university system.
On the issue of revitalisation funds for public universities, the minister, following the report, said the meeting received an update from the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education, adding that they were happy that the assignment given to them had been done satisfactorily.
According to him, the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education did their assignment in terms of getting the universities to come and defend the various allocations given to them based on the needs in the universities.
He said: “A committee to monitor has also been sent up by NUC. We are happy about that and expect the disbursement of the revitalisation funds to commence very soon.”
Regarding the issue of Earned Allowances, Ngige said the meeting was equally satisfied with the work that the NUC had done, having compartmentalised the payments based on the universities and the existing unions.
He disclosed that the sum of N22.172 billion was provided in the 2021 supplementary budget for earned allowances to all workers in the universities, while expressing optimism that the payments to the individual universities would commence very soon, as the meeting set a timeline for the payment to begin on or before October 30, 2021.
The Labour and Employment Minister also revealed that they received the report from the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the preferred University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) system developed by ASUU.
According to Ngige, the meeting looked at the promotion arrears and other outstanding payments of the university teachers and gave the timeline of the end of October for the issues to be resolved once and for all by the universities to enable the affected persons to enjoy the fruits of their promotion.
On the issue of shortfalls in payments, the Minister said the meeting asked the IPPIS office to have a template and liaise with vice-chancellors and bursars in the universities to hold a discussion next week, to develop a foolproof template that would enable everybody to get his or her salary.
“We have it on good authority that some university teachers have not been paid for several months because of issues of incomplete data. We have told the IPPIS office to gather those data as soon as possible to ensure that those university teachers were paid. A worker is due his wages. As a government, we don’t agree that we will use issues of incomplete data to hold back the salaries of workers for months. We think that should be sorted out as well. We gave a timeline of the end of the month to do this,” he said.
The Minister added that the meeting asked the Federal Ministry of Education to fast-forward the renegotiation process so that the product of the renegotiation would come to the government to look at it and agree on the areas of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) contained therein for speedy implementation and execution.
Responding, the National President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, expressed hope that all the issues would be resolved quickly for the benefit of the children, the university system and the country in general, the report says.