Resolution Of FGN/ASUU Face-off Progressing



By way of providing a background one needs to refresh our memory of the FGN/ASUU 2009 agreement entered into between the Nigerian Government and the country’s University Teacher’s union, ASUU.

Presently, the Federal Government has 43 Universities; state governments have 48 Universities and Private individual and organisations have 79 Universities.

Among other things, the agreement included details such as the breakdown of lecturers’ salary structure, staff loans, pension, overtime, and moderation of examinations and the funding of Universities where both parties agreed that each Federal University should get at least N1.5 trillion between 2009 and 2011 among others.

Other aspects of the agreement also include setting up a re-negotiation committee to ensure that at least 26 percent of Nigeria’s annual budget was allocated to education and half of that allocation should go to Universities; amendments to the 2004 Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB and the National Universities Commission Acts 2004 and amendment of the Education, National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions..

The agreement was signed by Bolanle Babalakin, the then chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Federal Universities; Gamaliel Onosode, chairman of the Federal Goverent’s re-negotiation committee; and Ukachukwu Awuzei, then President of ASUU.

The agreement demanded a heavy financial commitment from the government and was an adaptation of an earlier agreement reached in 2001.

Though it was unclear how much of the agreement has been implemented by the government. The then Secretary to the government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, after one of the failed negotiations, said that most of the issues contained in the 2009 agreement, had been fully met except for the earned allowances estimated at N92 billion.

Anyim had disclosed that some of the issues which border on amendment of pensionable retirement age of academics in the professorial cadre; consolidated peculiar allowances (CONPUAA)- exclusively for University teaching staff and National Health, Insurance Scheme, NHIS. However, setting up of budget monitoring committee in all public universities has been fully implemented.

It is on record that the Nigerian government led by President Buhari is working round the clock to once and for all implement the agreements reached by previous PDP governments which they deliberately failed to honour.

A strategic meeting was held to avert further strikes, with the Senate Leadership intervening and led by Senate President Ahmed Lawan in October last year during which the Minister of Labour and Employment committed to engaging ASUU and other stakeholders to iron out the outstanding issues.

Genuinely committed to full implementation of the issues at stake, PMB set up a panel to deal with the issues at stake.

On funding for revitalization of Public Universities, government in spite of the Economic downturn in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic approved N20 Billion and also followed it up with sources of alternative funding for revitalization to facilitate the process of additional funding of the University system. Similarly, on earned Academic Allowances, EAA and ASUU’s demand for the payment of N40bn over-due since November 2019, the Accountant General of the Federation pledged the release of N30bn and balance of N10bn to be paid after..

On State Universities, Federal government and ASUU agreed that the NUC Act would be amended in order to strengthen its regulatory capacity.

Other measures taken by government to enhance University education includes Setting up of Tetfund .

To further re jig its commitment in this regard, PMB administration went a step further by releasing N163 billion to the Universities from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund since 2017 and also offered N30b to all the unions in the Universities and another N20b as revitalization fund, totalling N50b during their meeting last year.

The Federal Government has said that the recent evaluation implementation meeting as a follow to last year’s meeting with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU early
August this year was described as very successful.

Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment who disclosed this while addressing journalists at the end of a closed-door meeting in Abuja had explained that the meeting evaluated seven main issues with both parties expressing satisfaction with the completion stages, adding that “work is still in progress”.

According to him, some of the items in the MOA were nearly done 100 percent within the timeline.

It is very heart warming hearing the Minister saying that in addition to resolving most of the contentious issues with ASUU by as much as 100 per cent, “Government has instructed the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA to expedite action on the integrity test on the University Transparency Accountability Solution, UTAS”. If found to be more fullfillng than IPPIS, universities in the country wil go for UTAS as their platform for the payment of salaries.

He said, ”If successful, it will eliminate the challenges posed by the peculiarities of the University system to the current payment platform.”

Minister Ngige had said the government had also paid the N30 billion as the University Revitalisation Fund contained in the MOA since January 2021.

He said, “The report has been turned in, deliberated upon and both the Education Ministry and the NUC have promised to write to the Accountant General of the Federation soon for the release of funding the NEEDS Special Account for onward disbursement to universities shortly.”

Indeed the Federal Government has undoubtedly demonstrated its committment to putting to rest the agitations by ASUU towards making University education in the country better and affordable.

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