Education

FG says N30bn varsities revitalization fund ready

FG says N30bn varsities revitalization fund ready

 

 

The federal government has said that N30 billion will soon be released to public universities across the country for their revitalization.

Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment made this known on Thursday following a marathon conciliation meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during which he revealed that university workers would also get N22.172 billion as Earned Allowance.

The minister convened the meeting 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.

Ngige who briefed journalists after the meeting, noted that they held fruitful deliberations, stressing that the six issues on the agenda were satisfactorily addressed.

The six issues table for discussion include: Funding for revitalization of public universities; Earned Academic Allowance; and University Transparency Accountability Solution; final report on the integrity test of UTAS by NITDA.

Others are Promotion Arrears; 2009 FG/ASUU Renegotiation Agreement; Inconsistencies in IPPIS Payment and State Universities: Progress report by ASUU/NUC.

Ngige assured ASUU 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.

He 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 saying 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 sent up by NUC. We are happy about that and expect the disbursement of the revitalisation 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.

The minister said the sum of N22,172 billion was provided 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 timeline for the payment to begin on or before October 30, 2021.

Ngige also 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.

He said, “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 added that the meeting asked the Federal Ministry of Education to fast forward the renegotiation process so that the product of the renegotiation would come to the Government to look at it and agree on the areas of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that are contained therein for speedy implementation and execution.

Responding, the President of ASUU, Professor 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.

He decried a situation where not one item of the issues they deliberated with the federal government in 2020 was addressed resulting in their starting all over again in this meeting.

Osodeke averred that the government official were not bothered about the plight of the university system because they do not have their children in the country’s schools.

Others at the meeting were Peter Yerima Tarfa, the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Abubakar Rasheed, Executive Secretary of NUC, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education, IPPIS Office, and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).

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