The Federal Government (FG), on Monday reached an agreement with members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, made this known after the meeting with the union in Abuja. Ngige said the majority of their demands have been met, including the release of N15.4 billion for payment of salary shortfalls.
He said, “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.
“ASUU has fulfilled its own side of the bargain in terms of NUPECO, which is the Pension Fund Administration company that ASUU has floated to take care of pension for people in the university system.
“The Pension regulator, the PENCOM, has asked certain positions to be fulfilled and they gave ASUU a temporary license, which has expired.
“ASUU has submitted all the documents and fulfilled all conditions needed to get their license,” he said.
Ngige noted that the meeting had resolved to mandate the Ministry of Education to get in touch with PENCOM to make sure that the permanent license was issued to ASUU as soon as possible.
The minister also said on the issue of university revitalisation, the President Goodluck Administration entered into an agreement with the ASUU for revitalisation of 220 universities annually for the next 6 years.
“This is starting from 2009, this Government will look for resources for the funding.
“We have also offered ASUU some token to show good faith and that amount is known to them. Issue of visitation panel is also taken care of.
“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.
The lecturers have been on strike since November 4 to demand improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.
In another light, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has warned the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, against conducting examinations when 70 per cent of courses have not been taught students. The university, which called back its students to school on Monday, has scheduled the examinations to start on January 14. ASUU has warned that any exam held would be rendered null and void.
Being positive, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has however announced its readiness to participate in the 2019 general election.
BY ONYEDIKA CHUKWUELOBE