The Federal Government has declared that it does not have enough money to meet the financial demands of striking members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This was the outcome of the resumed meeting between the Government’s team and ASUU delegation on Wednesday, November 4, 2020, in Abuja.
After hours of deliberation, the meeting again failed to reach an agreement on three key issues: revitalisation of the University system, Earned Academic Allowance and the controversial payroll system, the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS).
Thenationonlone reports that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, who briefed reporters at the end of the meeting, said the Government’s side will meet separately on Friday, November 6, 2020, to consider the counter–offer tabled by ASUU.
ASUU is asking the Federal Government to release ₦110 billion for revitalisation but the Government, two weeks ago, offered to release ₦20 billion for revitalisation.
Also, ASUU is insisting the ₦30 billion Earned Academic Allowance promised by the Federal Government should be for its members alone.
In total, the Government has offered to release ₦50 billion to the striking Lecturers, which is a far cry from what ASUU is asking the Government to release.
Dr Ngige said: “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 dire economic situation, because of COVID-19, we cannot really pay in the ₦110 billion which they are demanding for revitalisation. We offered ₦20 billion as revitalisation fund. On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the Government offered ₦30 billion to all the Unions in the Universities, making it ₦50 billion all together, if you add the ₦20 billion for revitalisation. ASUU is saying that the ₦30 billion should be for Lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this ₦30 billion.”
He noted that: “Again, the cardinal issue is the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus IPPIS. Today ASUU submitted their documents on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you know last week, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their 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 documents for onward transmission to NITDA.”
“They want an exemption from IPPIS and the Government side headed by the Accountant – General of the Federation said that IPPIS is the only Government approved payment platform. So that is where we 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 Minister of Labour added that: “The Government side will meet on Friday and after that they will communicate ASUU and in communicating them, if there is a need for a meeting, a date will be fixed for it.”