The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige, has stated that the Federal Government does not have the funds to meet its obligations in the agreement signed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Ngige said the government was considering a renegotiation of the terms of the agreement with ASUU, in the effort to end the ongoing strike by university lecturers.
The minister made this known while appearing on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television monitored from Abuja on Thursday.
When asked if he agreed that the government had failed to fulfil its side of the agreement with ASUU, Ngige said no.
On when the conflict would end, the minister said, “I am hoping that ASUU should do the right thing and contact their members on the renegotiations that we have had in the last two weeks. First, the issue of earned academic allowances, we have agreed, giving a timeline to the NUC to go back to the old template used in working out the 2021 earned academic allowance – 10.8 per cent of personnel cost.“We want them to go back very quickly and use that same formula and get us what we are supposed to pay in 2022. That is agreed by everybody.”
On revitalisation of the universities, Ngige said “the amount is not very clear, what has been paid.” He said the actual amount paid is being determined.
On the release of N1.3tn between 2013 and 2018 to revitalise the universities, with N200bn released in 2013 and only N70bn released in the last seven years, the minister, who noted that government is a continuum, stated that the N1.3tn was promised by the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration. According to him, oil was selling at between $100 and $120 per barrel then, while the revenue of the federation was rich.
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“The government now says ‘we don’t have the money to pay it.’ This was the agreement between 2016 and 2017,” he said, adding that the government still does not have the funds to fulfil its side of the bargain.
Ngige said the government is now calling for renegotiation of the agreement with ASUU, “unless you want us to go and take money from TETFUND and deceive you as it was done in that period, and place it for you on the table.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Education has constituted another committee to renegotiate the 2009 agreement with ASUU.
Announcing the reconstitution of the renegotiation team, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, emphasised the need to speedily bring to conclusion the outstanding issues in the 2009 agreement.
The statement read in part, “The Federal Government has reconstituted a team to renegotiate the 2009 agreement it had with the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
“Reconstituting the team, Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, said there was a need to speedily bring to conclusion all outstanding issues in the 2009 agreement in order to achieve the desired peace on our campuses.
“The Chairman of the reconstituted 2009 FGN/University-based Unions Agreements Re-negotiation Team is Prof Nimi Briggs, Pro-Chancellor, Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo.
“Members of the team include Lawrence Patrick Ngbale, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Wukari (North-East); Prof Funmi Togunu-Bickersteth, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Birnin Kebbi (South-West); Senator Chris Adighije, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University, Lokoja (South-East); and Prof Olu Obafemi, Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna (North-Central).
“Others are Prof Zubairu Iliyasu, Pro-Chancellor, Kano State University of Science & Technology (North-West); and Matthew B. Seiyefa, Pro-Chancellor, Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island (South-South).
“The team will be inaugurated by the minister by 12noon, on Monday, March 7, 2022 at the minister’s conference room, headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja.
“All advisers and observers in the Federal Government/University-based Unions 2009 Agreements Re-negotiation Team are expected to attend the inauguration.” PUNCH