FG Dismisses ASUU’s Claim over Timelines for Agreement

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Chris Ngige

• Says union breached understanding to call off strike by December 9

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The federal government has faulted the claim by the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, that it has failed to deliver on the timelines on the offers made to the union and that university teachers cannot return to classes on “empty stomach.”

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said while it is true that some of the offers made to ASUU have timelines, the timelines have faithfully been complied with.

A statement by the minister’s media office yesterday said: “For instance, the federal government promised to constitute a negotiation committee for the 2009 Agreement and has fulfilled it with the last week’s inauguration of the committee that has Prof. Muzali as chairman.

He said: “The N40 billion Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances have also been processed just as the N30 billion revitalisation fund, bringing it to a total of N70billion.

“Likewise, the visitation panels for the universities have been approved by the president but the panel cannot perform its responsibilities until the shut universities are re-opened. “The gazette is also being rounded off at the Office of Attorney-General of the Federation, while the Ministry of Education is ready to inaugurate the various visitation panels.”

According to the minister, the federal government has also agreed to pay salaries, allowances of earned academic allowances/earned allowances using a hybrid payment platform while UTAS is undergoing integrity test at National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

He explained that the federal government has demonstrated its commitment to fulfill its promises to the union.

The minister said it is false for ASUU to wrongly inform the public that the federal government agreed to pay all withheld salaries before it will resume work.

“The truth of the matter is that a ‘Gentleman Agreement’ was reached at the last meeting in which ASUU agreed to call off the strike before December 9, 2020, and the minister, in turn, agreed that once the strike is called off, he would get a presidential waiver for ASSU to be paid the remainder of their salaries on or before December 9, 2020,” he said.