The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has assured that it would call off its strike if the Federal Government released N50 billion to demonstrate its commitment to the revitalisation of public universities, in line with previous agreements with their union.
The striking lecturers gave this as a condition for calling off the strike which they began November 4 last year.
The N50 billion, the union said, will form the first tranche of the N220 billion government agreed for the project this year and add to the N20 billion earlier released for the year.
The President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, disclosed this in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night.
He said the union is not asking the government to release the whole N220 billion at once.
ASUU called the current strike to press for improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.
The union is also demanding implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU; 2012 and 2013) and Memorandum of Action (MoA, 2017) and the truncation of the renegotiation of the union’s agreements.
The union asked the government to release funds for the revitalisation of public universities, based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA of 2017. The teachers are also angry over the failure of the government to release operational licence to the Nigerian University Employees Pension Company (NUPEMCO).
However, a major issue dragging the negotiations forth and back is the revitalisation of the universities. At present, the government is yet to release the N1.1 trillion it agreed to release as part of the funds for the revitalisation project.
The 2013 MoU stipulated that public universities need N1.3 trillion for a modest revitalisation. The fund was to be released in tranches of N200billion in 2013, N220billion 2014, N220billion 2015, 220billion in 2016, N220billion in 2017 and N220billion in 2018.
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But in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday night, ASUU President, Mr Ogunyemi, said if the government can mainstream the union’s demands especially on earned allowances in the 2019 budget, the union will not need to come back for negotiation in 2020.
“Government promised to mainstream academic allowance in 2017, starting from the 2018 budget but it was not done. If the government is promising it again, what steps have they taken, can we have evidence? Once beaten, twice shy.”
Mr Ogunyemi said the federal government can spread the N220 billion for revitalisation of universities across four quarters.
“In which case, the N50 billion they will release now, if you add to what they released, N20 billion for last year, we would have 150 billion left for the rest of the year and that has been spread over the next three quarters.
“That’s what we’ve been saying as our minimalist position,” he said.
On the shortfall in salaries, he said: “Government promised to release the shortfall in salaries by January 18th, that’s two days away. Let’s wait and confirm that they’ve released it. We told them to also address the case of two or three universities that were omitted,” he said.
Mr Ogunyemi said the union has submitted its suggestions and may be meeting with the government next week. “But we’re waiting for their confirmation,” he said.
Source: Premium Times