- To release N30bn Revitilisation Fund soon
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government has said that it will pay the sum of N22.172 billion earned allowances to all workers in the universities on or before October 30, 2021.
It assured the workers that the amount has been provided for in the 2021 Supplementary Budget.
The government also said that it will commence the disbursement of the N30 billion revitalisation funds to public universities very soon.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this Thursday in his office after a marathon conciliation meeting between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
The meeting was convened by the minister to evaluate the level of implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by both parties in December, 2020 and the resolutions of the follow-up meeting held in August 2, 2021.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Ngige said they held fruitful deliberation, stressing that the six issues on the agenda were satisfactorily addressed.
He assured the workers that the government was not dragging its feet on anything that would make the university system to be good, adding that they were desirous that public universities should be fit and proper places for learning and research.
In a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Mr Charles Akpan, the minister reaffirmed the commitment of the government to uplifting the standard of Nigerian universities, saying the Buhari administration would try as much as possible within its limited resources, to make meaningful contribution to the development of the university system.
On the issue of revitalization funds for public universities, the minister said the meeting received an update from the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education, adding that they were happy that the assignment given to them had been done satisfactorily.
According to him, the NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education did their assignment in terms of getting the universities to come and defend the various allocations given to them based on the needs in the universities.
He said: “A committee to monitor has also been set up by NUC. We are happy about that and expect the disbursement of the revitilisation funds to commence very soon.”
On the issue of earned allowances, Ngige said the meeting was equally satisfied with the work that the NUC had done, having compartmentalised the payments based on the universities and the existing unions.
He said the sum of N22.172 billion was provided for in the 2021 Supplementary Budget for earned allowances to all workers in the universities.
He expressed optimism that the payments to the individual universities would commence very soon, as the meeting set a timeline for the payment to begin on or before October 30, 2021.
He revealed that they received the report from the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the preferred payment platform of ASUU, known as the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) system.
“We are also happy with the report they gave. We asked them to liaise with ASUU and NUC to work on this system for deployment by the users as soon as possible,” he said.
According to Ngige, the meeting looked at the promotion arrears and other outstanding payments of the university teachers and gave the timeline of the end of October for the issues to be resolved once and for all by the universities, to enable the affected persons enjoy the fruits of their promotion.
On the issue of shortfalls in payments, the minister said the meeting asked the IPPIS office to have a template and liaise with vice-chancellors and bursars in the universities to hold discussion next week, in order to develop a foolproof template that would enable everybody get his or her salary.
“We have it on good authority that some university teachers have not been paid for several months because of issues of incomplete data. We have told IPPIS office to gather those data as soon as possible to ensure that those university teachers were paid.
“A worker is due his wages. As government, we don’t agree that we will use issues of incomplete data to hold back salaries of workers for months. We think that should be sorted out as well. We gave a timeline of the end of the month to do this,” he said.
Responding, the President of ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, expressed hope that all the issues would be resolved quickly for the benefit of the children, the university system and the country in general.
Others at the meeting were the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Peter Yerima Tarfa; the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education, IPPIS Office and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).