FG meets ASUU over N30bn funds


Delegations of the Federal Government on Monday had a meeting with officials of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) towards evaluating the implementation of the Memorandum of Action entered into by the parties.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige briefed the press at the end of a closed-door meeting in Abuja.

Ngige said that the meeting evaluated seven key issues with both parties expressing satisfaction with the implementation stages, adding that “work is in progress”.

He said some of the items in the MOA were nearly done 100 per cent within the timeline.

Ngige said that the National Information Technology Development Agency was directed to expedite action on the integrity test on the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS).

”If successful, it will eliminate the challenges posed by the peculiarities of the university system to the current payment platform,” he said.

The minister said the government had also paid the N30 billion as the University Revitalisation Fund as contained in the MOA since January 2021.

According to him, the money is, however, still lodged with the CBN, pending the conclusion of the audit report of the Implementation Committee on the use of previous funds disbursement to universities by the Ministry of Education and the National University Commission.

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“The report has been turned in, deliberated upon and both the Education Ministry and the NUC have promised to write to the Accountant General of the Federation next week for the release of the money to the NEEDS Special Account for onward disbursement to universities shortly,” he said.

The minister said that the monies would be paid to successful universities based on the evaluation report of the committee, while those with shortcomings would be made to make up before accessing the fund.

He further disclosed that apart from the N40 billion Earned Allowance, which the Federal Government has already paid, the Budget Office of the Federation showed evidence that N22 billion Earned Allowances for year 2021” is already captured in the 2021 supplementary budget of the federation, and would soon be accessed”.

“On the proliferation of State universities, a bill has been sent to the National Assembly by the NUC to strengthen its arms in terms of delisting universities where funding and other parameters are inadequate.

”This effort was commended as all the parties agreed that mushrooming and proliferation of state universities, some of which mock the ideals of an ivory tower, should stop.

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“The inconsistencies in the IPPIS payment were also discussed. There was good interaction and documents were exchanged between IPPIS and ASUU.

”ASUU is to go back to its members so that we can have a proper update on the extent of the inconsistencies in payment.

”We expressed our displeasure that these things are happening – amputation of salaries, not-too-clear, foggy things happening over peoples monthly emoluments. So we have asked IPPIS and ASUU to work together over this,” he said.

Ngige said that evidence was presented that promotion arrears had been paid to some universities while the Budget Office of the federation and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation were asked to liaise with ASUU to sort out the rest.

He, however, noted that the standing committee on the matter had been expanded to include National Income Salaries and Wages Commission.

“A situation where a university professor is paid N107, 000 out of mistake or over deduction is unacceptable,” Ngige said.

The minister further expressed shock that the National Association of Resident Doctors had threatened to embark on another strike after holding a similar successful evaluation meeting with him last week.

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ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, expressed satisfaction with the outcome and promised that ASUU would reach out to members.

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