FG Sets 14-Man Panel To Resolve ASUU Issues

Education Minister Adamu Adamu yesterday said the protracted strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) caused him anguish and “internal turmoil”.

He said he did everything in his power to resolve the dispute.

Adamu said he met with the ASUU leadership at his home, office and its secretariat in a bid to find a solution.

The government, he said, can only afford a 23.5 per cent salary increase for lecturers and a 35 per cent raise for professors.

He said the government will provide for N150 billion in the 2023 budget for the revitalisation of federal universities to be disbursed in the first quarter.

Adamu said N50billion, which will be provided for in the 2023 budget for the payment of outstanding earned academic allowances, will also be paid in the first quarter.

According to the minister, the government was determined not to repeat the mistakes of signing an agreement it cannot implement.

A 14-man panel was set up yesterday to resolve some of the “contentious issues”.

The committee, headed by Adamu, was mandated to look at the no-work, no-pay policy and the lecturers’ conditions of service.

It will report to President Muhammadu Buhari in a matter of days.

The decision was reached after a closed-door meeting with pro-chancellors and vice-chancellors of federal universities.

Director of Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, Benjamin Goong, said the committee report would be ready in a few days.

The members include Prof Olu Obafemi, Prof Nimi Briggs, Udo Udoma, Bashir Dalhatu, Prof Kayode Adebowale (University of Ibadan), Prof Kabir Bala (Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria) and Prof Lilian Salami (University of Benin).

Others are Prof Charles Igwe (the University of Nigeria, Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Prof Is-haq Oloyede and representatives of the academies of letters, science, medicine and social sciences.

Before the meeting went into close door sessional, Adamu said the Federal Government had done all it could to end the strike.

He said: “In all, we have been doing, our guide has been the directive of Mr President Muhammadu Buhari, namely, that while the unions should be persuaded to return to work, the government should not repeat the past mistakes of accepting to sign an agreement it will be unable to implement.

“Government should not, in the guise of resolving current challenges, sow seeds for future disruptions.

“We have done the best that we can in the circumstance.

“After inter-ministerial consultations and rounds of hard negotiations with all government agencies, we interacted with the unions.

“I personally gave it all it required to resolve the current challenges.

“I met the unions anywhere and everywhere possible with facts, with figures, and with absolute sincerity.

“For example, I directly met with ASUU leadership in my house, in my office and at the ASUU Secretariat on several different occasions, in addition to other formal engagements going on.

“To be frank with all the unions, especially with ASUU, one major issue over which government and the unions could not reach amicable agreement was the issue of the law on ‘no work, no pay’.

“In the spirit of sincerity, the government made it clear that it would not break the law.”

According to the minister, the government can only afford a 23.5 per cent salary increase for lecturers and 35 per cent for professors.

He said: “The Federal Government can only afford a 23.5 per cent salary increase for all categories of the workforce in federal universities, except for the professorial cadre which will enjoy a 35 per cent upward review.

“Henceforth, allowances that pertain to ad-hoc duties of the academic and non-academic staff shall be paid as at when due by the governing councils of universities to which such services are rendered and to the staff who perform them.

“A sum of N150 billion shall be provided for in the 2023 budget as funds for the revitalisation of federal universities, to be disbursed to the institutions in the first quarter of the year.

“A sum of N50billion shall be provided for in the 2023 budget for the payment of outstanding areas of earned academic allowances, to be paid in the First Quarter of the year.”

The minister said he had been troubled by the protracted strike.

“For me, the past two weeks have been a very dark period of personal anguish and internal turmoil.

“I used to deceive myself that in a climate of frankness, and with mutual goodwill, it will fall to my lot to bring an end to the incessant strikes in the education sector.

“Government and ASUU have no option but to continue talking until our universities have reopened their doors to students, who clearly are the principal victims of the seemingly unending strikes.

“In the circumstances, therefore, all councils and senates of our universities are enjoined to rise up to their responsibilities.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *