– ASUU has rejected the offers made by the federal government in a bid to stop the ongoing strike by the university lecturers
– The minister of labour, Chris Ngige, had earlier said that the federal government had released N15.4 billion to the public universities
– Ngige added that President Buhari had approved N20 billion to offset arrears of the 2009 to 2012 verified earnings by the university lecturers
– The union, however, insisted the federal government should release at least one tranche of N220 billion revitalisation fund spread over four quarters of 2019
There seems no end in sight to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as the lecturers have rejected the offers made to them early this week by the federal government, Premium Times reports.
The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, had earlier stated on Tuesday, January 8, at a meeting with the leadership of ASUU that the labour dispute with the university teachers was on the verge of being resolved.
He listed the fresh concessions made by the federal government to ASUU.
The labour minister said the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance presented evidence that N15.4 billion had been released to public universities.
On earned academic allowances, he said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved N20 billion to offset arrears of the 2009 to 2012 verified earnings by the university lecturers.
However, in the early hours of Saturday, January 12, Premium Times reports that the president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said members of the union across various campuses and zones rejected the offers made by the government after careful review.
Ogunyemi reportedly described government’s offer on the outstanding revitalization fund of N1.1 trillion as tokenism.
PrimesTV.com gathers that the union leader said his colleagues are insisting that the federal government should release at least a tranche of N220 billion spread over four quarters of 2019.
He added that on earned allowances, the federal government’s proposal should not be lesser than the total amount released “the last time” out of the verified balance.
ASUU is reportedly insisting that the federal government should categorically state the amount earmarked for its members, which it said must not be lesser than N18.3 billion it received last.
The ASUU president said: “Our members have rejected tokenism with respect to outstanding revitalization fund of N1.1 trillion. They are insisting that government should release at least one tranche of N220 billion spread over four quarters of 2019.
“On earned academic allowances, our members said government’s proposed amount out of the verified balance should not be less than the total amount released last time, while evidence of mainstreaming the allowances into the 2019 budget should be shown. Also, timeline should be attached to payment of the balance of the arrears.
“The revitalization fund and earned academic allowances are the two critical areas on which our members feel strongly about. They expect necessary adjustments on the part of government before they can reconsider their decision on the ongoing strike action.”
Speaking on the revitalisation of universities, Ogunyemi said if the federal government refuses to release another tranche of the agreed sum, his members would think the government is not ready to solve the problem.
He said: “Revitalisation is key to this issue. That was the point I was making when we had the exit engagement and Senator Ngige was saying we agreed on many issues. There are issues that did not require agreement. If you say you will set up a committee and you do, it is implementation not agreement. So, our intention is not to attack any government but to get our demands.”
Ogunyemi stated that the federal government is yet to release the N1.1 trillion of the N1.3 trillion it agreed to provide for the revitalisation exercise.
The union leader added that no Nigerian would believe the country does not have money to resolve the current education crisis.
He said: “They didn’t release any money. If we are talking about the N1.1 trillion that they should release in tranches and government has not said they will work towards releasing one tranche, then how do you think our members will take that from us? They are mixing up issues. They did not tell us if the N20 billion is a deposit.
“I don’t believe any Nigerian will believe government does not have money for what they see as a priority. We keep telling them that overnight they brought out N800 billion to bail out what they now call Polaris Bank. When they had a problem with subsidy, they knew where they went to; so they cannot keep telling us there is no money.”
Asked when the union would meet the government to reopen negotiation, Ogunyemi said the union was still consulting.
“I am not going to determine whether we are resuming or not. Our members will determine that and we will go back to them,” he said.
Ogunyemi said the union is currently preparing its response to the federal government.
ASUU had embarked on strike on November 4, 2018, to demand improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements entered with the government.
Meanwhile, PrimesTV previously reported that President Buhari assured Nigerian students that he would speak with lecturers in a bid to end the ongoing strike by ASUU.
Buhari gave the assurance on Thursday, January 3, when the executive committee of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) paid him a visit at the state house in Abuja.
The president also called on labour unions to allow his administration concentrate on fixing infrastructure in the country.