The Federal Government says it will commence the disbursement of the N30 billion revitalisation fund to public universities soon.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige said this at the end of a closed door conciliation meeting between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Friday in Abuja.
The meeting was convened by the minister to evaluate the level of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties in December 2020 and the resolutions of the follow up meeting, held on Aug., 2.
Ngige said that the meeting held fruitful deliberations and the six issues on the agenda were satisfactorily addressed.
He assured that government was not dragging its feet on anything that would make the university system to be good, adding that it was desirous that public universities should be seen as fit and proper places for learning and research.
The minister reaffirmed the commitment of the government to uplifting the standard of the country’s university system.
”The Buhari administration will try as much as possible within its limited resources, to make meaningful contribution to the development of the university system,” he said.
On the issue of revitalisation funds for public universities, he noted that the meeting received an update from the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education.
According to him, they are happy that the assignment given to them has been done satisfactorily.
Ngige said that the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education did their assignment in terms of getting the universities to come and defend the various allocations given to them based on the needs in the universities.
“A committee to monitor has also been sent up by the NUC. We are happy about that and expect the disbursement of the revitilisation funds to commence very soon,” he added.
Regarding the issue of earned allowances, Ngige said the meeting was equally satisfied with the work that the NUC had done having compartmentalised the payments based on the universities and the existing unions.
He said N22. 172 billion was provided in the 2021 Supplementary Budget for Earned Allowances to all workers in the universities.
Ngige expressed optimism that the payments to the individual universities would commence very soon, as the meeting had set timeline for the payment to begin on or before Oct. 30.
He said that they received the report from the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the preferred payment platform of ASUU known as the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) system.
“We are also happy with the report they gave. We asked them to liaise with ASUU and NUC, to work on this system for deployment by the users, as soon as possible,” he said.
According to Ngige, the meeting looked at the promotion arrears and other outstanding payments of the university teachers and gave the timeline of end of October for the issues to be resolved once and for all by the universities.
He said that this would enable the affected persons enjoy the fruits of their promotion.
On shortfalls in payments, he said the meeting urged the IPPIS office to have a template and liaise with vice chancellors and bursars in the universities to hold discussion next week.
According to him, this will ensure the development of a fool proof template that will enable affected persons to get their salaries.
“We have it on good authority that some university teachers have not been paid for several months, because of issues of incomplete data.”
“We have told IPPIS office to gather those data as soon as possible, to ensure that those university teachers are paid.”
”A worker is due his wages. As government, we do not agree that we will use issues of incomplete data to hold back salaries of workers for months.”
“We think that should be sorted out as well. We gave a timeline of the end of the month to do this,” Ngige said.
He said that the meeting asked the Federal Ministry of Education to fast forward the renegotiation process, so that the product of the renegotiation would come to government for a review.
The minister said that the meeting also agreed on the areas of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that were contained therein for speedy implementation and execution.
Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of ASUU, expressed hope that all the issues would be resolved quickly, for the benefit of the children, the university system and the country in general.
Our correspondent reports that present at the meeting were Peter Yerima-Tarfa, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment and Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the Executive Secretary, NUC.
Others were representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education, IPPIS Office and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).