Saturday, May 21, 2022

ASUU Threatens Fresh Strike, Says Agreed N22bn Allowance Unpaid

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The Academic Staff Union of Universities, on Monday, gave the Federal Government a 21-day ultimatum over the failure of the government to implement the agreement reached with it.

This is as the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, claimed in an interview with The PUNCH that the union had failed to submit a breakdown of the workers entitled to the N22.1bn earned allowances.

The ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, who spoke during a press briefing at the University of Abuja, blamed the Federal Government for failing to honour the agreement it signed with the union, which made it call off its strike in December 2020.

Recall that in March 2020, ASUU embarked on a nine-month strike following its disagreement with the Federal Government over the funding of universities and alleged ineffectiveness and discrepancies around the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System and others.

ASUU, however, developed the University Transparency and Accountability Solution to replace the IPPIS and had several meetings with the ministries of Finance, Education, Labour and Employment, and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation before it was approved, but it has yet to be implemented.

Likewise, the government and ASUU signed an agreement aimed at addressing some of the demands of the union, a development that led to the suspension of the strike on December 23, 2020.

After a meeting with the government on August 2, 2021, Osodeke said the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency insisted that the UTAS must be re-presented to the end users.

At the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, assured ASUU that the N22.1bn earned allowances captured in the 2021 supplementary budget would soon be accessed by university workers.

The National Universities Commission also promised to pay the sum of N30bn as revitalisation fund for federal universities.

The ASUU president, however, told journalists that the Federal Government had yet to implement the agreements and was not giving cogent reasons for not doing so.

He said, “The N30bn revitalisation fund for public universities purported to be kept in a dedicated account at the Central Bank of Nigeria has yet to be disbursed even when a majority of the vice-chancellors have successfully defended their proposals as a condition of accessing the fund.

“The government gave the assurance that the fund would be paid by the end of October. Surprisingly, this is November 15 and nothing has been heard from the government about it.

“At the meeting with the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, the ES said the N22.17bn earned allowances had been appropriated in the 2021 budget based on the weighted average of the annual salary appropriated for each university.

“It was then agreed that the Ministry of Education would take one week, while the Ministry of Finance would take till the end of October to effect payment, but surprisingly till now, nothing has been done to implement this.”

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