The Federal Government has expressed the hope that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)’s one-month warning strike, would soon be over.
Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, expressed the hope of truncation of the warning strike when he spoke with reporters at the end of a conciliation meeting between the government and the union.
Ngige said the meeting agreed on many issues and a timeline was scheduled for the implementation of the agreements.
According to him, ASUU officials agreed to return to their members with offers made by the government and revert to him before the week runs out.
He noted that many of the items in the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MOA) had been dealt with exhaustively, while some were being addressed. The minister explained:
“We have only one or two areas that are new. One of the new areas is the renegotiation of the Conditions of Service, which is called the `2009 Agreement’.
“An agreement was reached in 2009 that their Conditions of Service would be reviewed every five years. It was done in 2014.
“We started one in which the former UNILAG Pro-Chancellor, Wale Babalakin (SAN), was chairing the committee.
“After Babalakin, Prof. Manzali was in charge and the committee came up with a draft document, proposed by the Federal Ministry of Education and ASUU.
“Today, Manzali’s committee has become defunct because many of the people in the committee are no longer pro-chancellors.”
Ngige said that a new team had been constituted to take a second look at that document. He said:
“This is to make sure that some of the allowances are not against the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) fixed rates for wages and allowances.
“If you propose allowances that do not comply with NSIWC rates, the government will not be able to accept it.
“So, it is important that they do the right thing from the beginning so that whatever the committee presents can be approved by the Federal Executive Council.”
ASUU had, on February 14, declared a one-month strike. Speaking with state house correspondents a few days ago after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the strike, Ngige said actions are on on course to resolve the crisis. He said:
“Why I said that the 2020 December agreement we had with ASUU is on course in terms of implementation, is that in that agreement, there is a line that says the federal government should pay N40 billion for earned academic allowances (EAA) for ASUU and other unions. That has been paid.
“N30 billion was also budgeted or was to be paid for revitalisation. That also was paid late last year.
“N22.127 billion was agreed also in that December agreement, to be paid from the supplementary budget as earned allowances for 2021. That money was also paid last year; it was put in the supplementary budget which was passed around June-July and the money was remitted. So, the government has done that.”
He said the controversy surrounding the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) payment platform as preferred by university lecturers, instead of the government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), is being considered.