ASUU strike: Federal government proposes N200bn for public varsities as a new offer
In a bid to end the over six-month-old strike by university lecturers, the Federal Government has agreed a N200 billion increase in university funding in the 2023 budget.
This was disclosed by Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu during a meeting he had with vice-chancellors and other stakeholders in the university system in Abuja, on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. Recall, that since February 14, 2022, there have been no academic activities in public universities in the country due to the ongoing ASUU strike. The union is demanding the release of revitalization funds for universities, renegotiation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement, release of earned allowances for university lecturers, and deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS).
Two weeks ago, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said Federal Government had addressed most of the union`s demands including the release of N50b for the payment of earned allowances for academic and non-academic and non-academic staff of universities but said the that the union will not be paid the arrears of the strike period.
The union has also insisted on not calling off the lingering strike until the arrears are settled. However, in the new development, the minister of education said concerning the salary increment, the FG can only afford a 23.5% salary increase for university lecturers while a 35% increment will be enjoyed by professors.
He also said that sum of N200bn will be provided to ensure adequate funding for the universities in the 2023 budget. Adamu noted that President Muhammadu Buhari warned against signing agreements that the government will not be able to meet.
The minister said,” The Federal Government can only afford a 23.5% salary increase for all category of the workforce in Federal Universities, except for the professorial cadre which will enjoy a 35% upward review. “Henceforth, allowances that pertain to ad-hoc duties of the academic and non-academic staff shall be paid as at when due by the Governing Councils of Universities to which such services are rendered and to the staff who perform them.
“That a sum of 150 billion Naira shall be provided for in the 2023 Budget as funds for the revitalization of Federal Universities, to be disbursed to the institutions in the First Quarter of the year, and that a sum of 50 billion Naira shall be provided for in the 2023 Budget for the payment of outstanding areas of earned academic allowances, to be paid in the First Quarter of the year”.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, the pro-chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Professor Peter Okebukola, noted that the government was ready to go all out to ensure that the university lecturers return back to school. Meanwhile, a 14-man committee set up by the minister as part of efforts aimed at ending the ongoing strike commenced meeting at the National Universities Commission (NUC) on Monday.
The committee members are expected to harmonise the recommendations of the Emeritus Professor Nimi-Briggs and the proposals of the Federal Government. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, said; “A 14-man committee has been set up and the committee will be chaired by the minister.
The plan is to harmonise the Nimi-Briggs report, the stand by ASUU and the proposals of the Federal Government. The committee has started meeting as we speak; they will transmit their report to the President before ASUU is briefed.”
“The draft agreement was critically reviewed and the proposed salary increment considered unrealistic and out of tune with the current realities of the national economy,” he said.
Goong added, “Members of the committee include pro-chancellors and vice-chancellors among others. You have the vice-chancellors of the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Nigeria Nsukka and the University of Benin.
“The others are Professor Nimi-Briggs, Professor Olu Obafemi, Udo Udoma, and Bashir Dalhatu; Exective Secretary of NUC, JAMB Registrar, Representative of the Academy of Letters, Science, Medicine and Social Sciences.”
When contacted, ASUU’s president, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, said the union would await an official letter from the government.
“This information you provided to us is confidential and we have never heard of it. We are awaiting an official letter from them and will report our position after that.”