Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has met with the Federal Government again on the ongoing ASUU strike yesterday.
At the meeting, The Federal Government has promised to pay the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) N30bn on or before November 6, 2020, as part of the pending Earned Academic Allowance (EAA) of University teachers.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said that the Government has promised to pay the sum of N40 billion.
He elaborated that out of that amount, N30 billion would be paid on or before 6th November, while the remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over two tranches to be paid on May 2021 and February 2022.
The minister affirmed that though the Federal Government agreed to fulfill its financial obligations to ASUU members, particularly outstanding salaries and earned allowances, the parties could not agree on the mode of payment.
“The government’s side appealed to ASUU to enroll on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) platform in the meantime, and migrate back to the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) after its efficacy had been proven through the necessary integrity tests. The Union refused, insisting on being exempted from IPPIS“, he said.
“The meeting also agreed that if UTAS passes all the different stages of the integrity test, which would involve the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), and after ascertaining its efficacy, it would be adopted for the payment of the University staff“, he affirmed.
Dr. Ngige further said that the government also offered to pay, by the end of January 2021, the sum of N20 billion as funding for the revitalization of public universities, as well as seek sources of alternative and additional funding for the university system, among other conclusions.
“At the meeting with the Senate President, we agreed on a work plan to achieve full conciliation so that students would go back to school.
With the work done so far, both at the meeting with the Senate President and at the test run of the UTAS done at the Accountant-General’s office on Wednesday, we believe we will be able to break the ice.”
He explained that UTAS was designed strictly for the University system and could only be applied there, emphasizing that the Government never said it would use it to replace IPPIS.
“The situation is that the University system developed and configured UTAS to accommodate the peculiarities of that system as it affects the academic and even the non-academic staff.”
In addition, The Minister said that the government’s condition for considering UTAS as a suitable payment system for the University has always been that it would necessarily undergo three stages of the integrity test.
He disclosed that the first leg of the test had been done on Wednesday, while the two remaining stages would be done subsequently.
Meanwhile, ASUU chairman, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi, appealed to the Government to treat the matter as a national emergency, as the Education sector needed urgent intervention.
“Education is in serious crisis; university education in particular needs urgent intervention. Unless it gets that, it would be difficult to achieve the desired stability in the system“, he stressed out.
Other key leaders present at the meeting included the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN; Executive Chairman, National Salaries, Income, and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta; Permanent Secretary, Labour, and Employment, Dr. Yerima Peter Tarfa, among others.
The meeting had been said to continue on Wednesday, 21st October to enable the leadership to consult their organs on the conclusions reached in the previous meeting.