The latest conciliatory meeting between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), aimed at putting an end to the strike action embarked upon by university lecturers since March 2020, has ended inconclusive as both parties failed to reach a middle ground on some major issues.
The meeting, which held on Thursday night, was convened as a follow-up to the previous meeting held at the instance of the Senate Leadership, where the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, committed to engaging the striking lecturers to resolve the crisis.
But on Thursday, the meeting could not achieve the suspension of the strike.
However, according to a statement by the Ministry of Labour, it concluded on the funding for revitalisation of public universities.
“Government, in spite of the Economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, brought an offer of N20 Billion (Twenty Billion Naira) layable by the end of January 2021 and ASUU agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration and revert by Wednesday 21st October, 2020,” it said.
The statement noted that the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, would continue discussions with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on its earlier Memo to President Muhammadu Buhari on sources of alternative funding for the revitalisation to facilitate the process of additional funding of the university system.
This is with a view to reactivating the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 as agreed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2019
In response to the demand by ASUU for the payment of the Earned Allowance due from 2019, totalling N40 Billion, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) committed to release N30 billion on or before November 6, 2020.
He added that the remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022 respectively.
On the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) rejected by the union, the meeting was informed that ASUU has met its timeline regarding the first stage of the initial demonstration of the efficacy of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) to government as this was done on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.
“The meeting also agreed that if UTAS passes all the different stages of the integrity test which would involve National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Office of the National Security Advisers (NSA) and after ascertaining its efficacy; it would be adopted for the payment of the University staff,” the labour ministry said.
The statement added that fhe meeting is expected to reconvene by October 21 by 3.00 pm after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting for ASUU to report back on the decision of her NEC, in order to facilitate the calling off their strike.
Government’s team was led by Ngige while the President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, led the representatives of the lecturers’ union.
The industrial action, which started nearly seven months ago, is a major reason why universities are yet to resume after the easing of the COVID-19 safety protocols.