The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige says Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have yet to reach an agreement on the union’s demands.
He spoke to journalists after a closed-door conciliation meeting between Federal Government representatives and ASUU on Wednesday in Abuja.
The minister said that the Federal Government has not been able to meet some of ASUU’s demands due largely to paucity of funds.
According to Ngige, “There are three issues and these include the revitalisation fund where government offered ASUU N20 billion, on good faith based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation with the then government in 2009.
“This present government is still committed to it, while we are giving them offers of some fund.
“This government is not against revitalisation but this government says that because of the dare economic situation due to COV1D-19, we cannot really pay in the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalisation.
“We offered N20 billion as revitalisation fund.
“On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the government offered N30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making it N50 billion all together.
“ASUU is saying that the N30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We do not have any money to offer apart from this N30 billion,” he said.
He, however, said that the cardinal issue was the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System(IPPIS).
Ngige added that ASUU had submitted its document on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).
“As you know last week, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets ASUU system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test.
“This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today, they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA.
“One other issue that has arisen is the issue of the transition period. How do ASUU get the Earned Academic Allowances that is due to them and any other entitlement that government wants to pay them,” he said.
He, therefore, noted that ASUU wanted an exemption from IPPIS.
According to him, on the government side headed by the Accountant General of the Federation, we have said that IPPIS is the only government-approved payment platform.
“So that is where were are for now. So we are all going back to our principals and they will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what Federal Government has to offer.
“The government side will meet on Friday and after that they will communicate to ASUU and in communicating them, if there is a need for a meeting, a date will be fixed for it,” he said.
Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President said that the union would wait for the Federal Government to meet on Friday and get back to the union by next week.
Credit: The Herald