THE ongoing effort by the federal government to resolve the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), has again ended in a deadlock.
ASUU had in March this year embarked on an industrial action to demand the implementation of agreements and resolutions reached in 2009 and subsequent memoranda of understanding signed in 2013 and 2017.
The union opposed the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in the payment of its members’ salaries and presented its University Transparency Account System (UTAS) to the government as an alternative.
Though the government has agreed to adopt its UTAS after subjecting it to an integrity test, it however said it does not have the N110 billion revitalisation fund being demanded by ASUU.
Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s minister of labour and employment, revealed this on Wednesday shortly after another round of meeting with the striking lecturers. He said the government could only offer ASUU N20 billion due to the dire economic situation in the country.
“There are three issues and these include the revitalisation fund where the government offered ASUU N20 billion, on good faith based on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation with the then government in 2009. This present government is still committed to it, while we are giving them offers of some fund,” Ngige said.
“This government is not against revitalisation but this government says that because of the dire economic situation due to COV1D-19, we cannot really pay in the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalisation.
“We offered N20 billion as revitalisation fund. On earned academic allowances (EAA), the government offered N30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making it N50 billion altogether.
“ASUU is saying that the N30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We do not have any money to offer apart from this N30 billion.
“As you know last week, the minister of communication and digital economy has approved that NITDA gets ASUU 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 document for onward transmission to NITDA.”
While stating that lack of platform was the reason why the government has not paid the striking lecturers, he said the government side will meet on Friday to review the demands of ASUU and would subsequently communicate to the union if there is a need for another meeting.
Students have stayed at home for more than 200 days since the strike began on Monday, March 23.