The Federal Government said it cannot afford N110 billion demanded by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for funding of revitalisation of universities

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said this while briefing journalists after a social dialogue between Federal government and ASUU in Abuja.

Senator Ngige explained that the government cannot meet the demand of ASUU of revitalisation because of the damaging effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

He disclosed that the Federal Government has offered the union N20 billion for revitalisation and N30 billion for Earned Academic Allowances, making it  N50 billion all together.

The minister said the government side made all these offers to show its commitment towards the resolution of the prolonged strike.

“There are three issues like revitalisation fund where government offered ASUU N20 billion as a sign of good faith based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation they had with government in 2009. This present government is still committed to it. That is why we are giving them offers of some fund,” Ngige said.

“This government is not against revitalisation but this government says that because of dire economic situation and  COVID-19, we cannot really pay the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalisation.

“We offered N20 billion as revitalization fund. On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the government offered N30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making it N50 billion all together.

“ASUU is saying that the N30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this N30 billion.

“Again, another cardinal issue is the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus IPPIS. Today ASUU submitted their document on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you know last week, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test.

This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible.

So today they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA.”

He said the transition period and how to disburse the Earned Academic Allowances and  other entitlements remained unresolved as ASUU wanted an exemption from IPPIS whereas the government side headed by the Accountant General of the Federation insisted on IPPIS, being the only government approved payment platform.

“So that is where we are for now. So, we’re all going back to our principals and they will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what Federal Government has to offer. The government side will meet on Friday and after that, they will communicate ASUU and after that, if there is need for a meeting, a date will be fixed for it.”