By Uche Amunike
The Federal government has confirmed that the meeting they had with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, with the sole purpose of evaluating the implementation of the Memorandum of Action, (MOA) agreed on by the parties was a huge success.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, while addressing journalists after the closed-door meeting in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking during the interaction, Ngige vouched that the meeting evaluated seven major issues with both parties expressing satisfaction at the completion stages, saying that work was indeed in progress.
He went on to explain that some of the items outlined in the MOA were nearly done 100% within the given time frame.
He stressed that the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA was instructed to expedite action and the integrity test on the University Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS.
His words: ‘If successful, it will eliminate the challenges posed by the peculiarities of the university system to the current payment platform.’
He explained that the government had also paid the N30 billion as the University Revitalization Fund contained in the MOA since January 2021.
Hear him: ‘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 also added, ‘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.’
‘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’ve asked IPPIS and ASUU to work together over this.’
Recall that the Union had in March 2020, embarked on an industrial action that lasted for over 9 months, being the longest of its strike in 10 years, over the failure of the Federal government to address the issues and implement some of the agreements reached by both parties, years prior.
This led to major setbacks for students in various levels of education and left the system as unstable as it had never been.
Recall also, that ASUU, had on June 19, made threats that they would embark on another strike over the alleged deliberate refusal of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, to pay salaries and remittance of check-off dues of over 1,000 staff members for 13 months.
The UNIJOS ASUU Chairman, Dr Lazarus Maigoro was the person who accused the AGF of fanning the embers of discord between the Federal government and the Union in his press statement.
This led to the Federal government meeting with the Union in order to discuss their grievances and find ways of stopping the planned industrial action.