Friday, October 18, 2013

So ASUU Rejects N600b Offer!

Varsity teachers remained adamant last night, saying their strike would go on, despite the government’s shifting of its position. The strike has been on for four months.

More cash has been pledged for projects on the campuses. Besides, the earned allowances due to the teachers have been increased from the initial N30 billion offer, which the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) rejected. The teachers are insisting on the 2009 agreement, which they say President Goodluck Jonathan was part of. Besides, they say, they do not trust the government.

According to a circular by the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, to the staff of the school, quoted yesterday by Sahara Reporters, the government has pledged to spend N200 billion on the universities in the 2014 budget and the same amount annually for the next three to four years.

This is in addition to the N100 billion already made available this year, but which ASUU has rejected.

The government has also increased to N40 billion, as a first installment, funds for the payment of earned allowances to the striking lecturers – an improvement from the N30 billion previously released.

On the earned allowances, Aluko said: “Government will top it up with further releases once universities are through with the disbursement of this new figure of N40 million. So, Vice-Chancellors are urged to expedite this disbursement within the shortest possible time using guiding templates that have been sent by the CVC,” the circular said.

Aluko said the latest development followed meetings on September 19 and Oct 11 of representatives of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, led by its Chairman, Prof. Hamisu of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) and ASUU representatives led by its President, Dr.Nasir Fagge, with Vice-President Namadi Sambo and Minister of Education Nyesome Wike.

A source in the Ministry of Education last night also confirmed that the meeting took place.

“But the government decided to leave the announcement of the decision to the ASUU chiefs,” the source said.

According to National Treasurer Dr. Ademola Aremu, ASUU is not making any new demand, but a mere implementation of an agreement. He pointed out that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both parties in 2009 stated that the government would commit N1.5 trillion to the system in three years.

He said: “Even if the Federal Government made that promise, it would be a unilateral repudiation of the 2009 agreement. By now, the government should have injected N500 billion. That amounts to N100 billion in 2012 and N400 billion in the current year.

“As a matter of fact, any new commitment from the Federal Government is belated. Implementation of the agreement ought to have started before this year. I don’t think there is any way we can trust this government, going by its past behaviour on this issue.

“The mandate from our principal as at the last time we met was that we won’t end the strike until the agreement is fully implemented.

“We do not need promises again. What we need now is actual implementation. What if they do not release the funds again after making the promise?

“It was this same Mr President that mid-wifed the agreement in 2009 when he was the Vice President. The MoU was in his custody. He studied the agreement well before asking then President Umaru Yar’Adua to sign it. We can’t trust this government.


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