FG Restates Commitment to Negotiation with ASUU……… Appoints Babalakin Chairman of Re-negotiation team.
The Honourable Minister of Education (HME), Mallam Adamu Adamu has assured the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of Federal Government’s commitment to the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement to prevent any disruption in the academic calendar of the universities. The Minister gave the assurance on Monday, 9 January, 2017, during a meeting with the Executive members of the Union, where he informed them that as a demonstration of its commitment to resolving the contentious issues, the Federal Government recently appointed a Government-led re-negotiating team of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement headed by Dr. Wale Babalakin.
The meeting was convened to review the resolutions with the Union during the Senate President’s intervention in November 2016, following the understanding reached on some issues raised. ASUU had threatened to embark on a fresh industrial action, based on what it called “Government’s inability to implement the agreement”, but shelved it due to the intervention of the National Assembly.
It would be recalled that the Senate and ASUU, held a meeting in November 2016, at the National Assembly’s Complex, where the issues of funding for the revitalisation of public universities, payment of earned academic allowances, Registration of NUPEMCO, Short falls in remittances leading to payment of fractions of salaries to staff of universities and payment of salaries of staff of university primary schools were revisited. Others were budgetary allocation to education; exemption of universities from the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) and Re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement.
After extensive deliberations on each of these issues, ASUU and the Senate made the following resolutions:
1. On Funding for the Revitalisation of Public Universities
Government agreed to the implementation of the needs of the Universities by making available N200 billion in 2013. That the continued implementation could only be made possible with prompt assessment of the fund by the universities;
· That the universities were not making enough efforts to access the fund;
· That the sum of N80 billion remained unspent due to the inability of the universities to meet the requirements to completely exhaust the first installment; and
· ASUU members were advised to encourage the universities to take appropriate action towards accessing the fund.
2. Payment of Earned Academic Allowances
The meeting agreed on the amount to be released in the interim for the payment of earned academic allowances out of the more than N65 billion computed by ASUU as unpaid earned allowances for the years 2009-2013. The Federal Government offered N1.5 billion monthly for the period of six months, while ASUU demanded N29 billion for two years. However, the Ministry of Finance was instructed to decide the amount to be made available in the interim to immediately address the issue of earned allowances while forensic audit is going on to assuage ASUU to call off the strike.
3. Registration of NUPEMCO
It was also unanimously agreed that PenCom should take appropriate steps to register NUPEMCO, since the Nigerian University System (NUS) had raised the sum of N1billion being the financial requirements for its establishment.
4. Shortfalls in remittance leading to payment of fractions of salaries to staff of universities
The meeting noted, with satisfaction, that Mr. President’s proposed virement to address the issue of shortfall in Universities personnel emolument was already receiving speedy attention at the National Assembly and an appeal was made to the Union to exercise patience as the issue would soon be resolved.
5. Payment of Staff of University Primary Schools
The Committee could not discuss the matter as it was pending in a court of competent jurisdiction. ASUU was, therefore, advised to take this issue out of the matters to be resolved as it would have been subjudice to deliberate on it.
6. Budgetary Allocation to Education
The meeting agreed on the need to appropriate adequate funds for education sector.
7. Exemption of Universities from Treasury Single Account (TSA)
The meeting agreed that funds that are not appropriated, like universities endowment funds, should not be paid into the TSA.
8. Re-Negotiation of 2009 Agreement
The Committee urged the Federal Government to make a definitive statement on the re-negotiation of the 2009 agreement since it was already overdue for re-negotiation.
Meanwhile in a letter addressed to the Honorable Minister of Education, dated 5th January, 2017, ASUU had requested for an update on the issues raised to enable the Union determine what next steps to take.