On Sunday, the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ three-week deadline for industrial action ended, and the federal government has begun measures to prevent strikes in public universities.
In an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of State for Education, said his ministry had written a letter to the Ministry of Finance regarding the payment of allowances to university staff. But the union told one of our correspondents that the government had only met one of its demands.
ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke said the leadership of the union was in a marathon meeting to review the implementation of the various interventions reached with the Federal Government. ASUU had on November 15 given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum over government failure to meet its demands
The lecturers threatened to embark on another round of industrial action following the ‘government’s unfaithfulness’ in implementation of the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union upon which last year’s strike action was suspended.
After the union’s National Executive Council meeting at the University of Abuja on November 13 and 14, ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, lamented that despite meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on October 14, 2021, on issues including funding for revitalization of public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution, promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN agreement, and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system payment, none of the demands had been met.
The Federal Government promised to pay N30bn as a revitalization fund to universities. It also promised to pay N22.1bn earned allowances to university workers. When contacted on Saturday night, the ASUU president told one of our correspondents that the government had not met all the demands.
Osodeke said the union would meet on Sunday to take a decision on the issue. As of the time of sending this report, the union was still meeting.
“The deadline will elapse by Sunday. They only met one out of our requests which is the NEEDS assessment; the revitalization funds of N30bn but they paid only N20bn to the universities. The other requests have not been fulfilled even the ones they promised. Our officers are meeting tomorrow, we will let you know our decision by tomorrow (Sunday),” he said on Saturday.
When contacted at 8:30 pm on Sunday, the ASUU president said the union was still meeting. “We haven’t taken a final decision yet. We have to consult all our branches and zones. The national cannot just sit down and call for action. The government didn’t implement what they promised us,” he said
But Nwajiuba said the ministry of education had written its finance counterpart on the payment, adding that the Minister of Finance had acknowledged the receipt of the letter. He said, “We have sent a letter to the ministry of finance and in the letter, we did a breakdown of each university and the individuals to be paid. We do not pay unions. What we will do is to pay each university. We have done the breakdown.
“I spoke to the minister of finance yesterday and she said she got the letter and her ministry would work with the breakdown that we gave them. The payment will be paid as soon as due process is concluded by the ministry of finance. But it should be noted that the money will not be paid to the union as a whole but it would be paid to each university.” ,,