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President Muhammadu Buhari will resolve the complaints by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the payment of only half of their October salary by the Federal Government.
House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who revealed this yesterday, appealed to the union members to remain calm.
ASUU President Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke had at the weekend flayed the half pay, saying it was regrettable that the Federal Government was treating university teachers like casual workers.
But in a statement, Gbajabiamila said that intervention had been made by the House to explore the possibility of partial payments of the outstanding salaries (February to October 13) to the lecturers.
He also said that efforts were on by the Executive and the House to address all issues that led to the ASUU strike that kept students at home for eight months.
The Speaker specifically mentioned the inclusion of N170 billion in the 2023 Budget to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of lecturers and N300 billion revitalisation fund to improve the infrastructure and operations of the federal universities,
Gbajabiamilla added that the harmonisation of some elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) was already ongoing to arrive at an acceptable payment platform for university teachers.
The statement he personally signed reads: “When the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called off their industrial action three weeks ago, it meant that academic activities could resume in our nation’s public universities, and students could return to their academic pursuits after the prolonged interruption. This decision was rightly heralded nationwide as the correct decision.
“Since then, the Executive and the House of Representatives have worked to address the issues that led to the strike. We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes N170 billion to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers. The bill also includes additional N300 billion revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.
“Furthermore, the House has convened the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and other stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). This effort is being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.
“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has manifested his desire for what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.
“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required. Therefore, I urge all parties to be patient and grant each other the presumption of goodwill to the extent necessary to achieve our shared objectives. This is not a time for political brinkmanship.
“There is no more pressing objective than to preclude the possibility of further disruptions to the academic calendar of the universities. We must prevent this possibility by all means, as these disruptions risk the promise and potential of our nation’s youth.”
The Speaker also the house was convening a national summit on Tertiary Education Reform, adding that it had called for papers and memoranda from members of the public.
Acting Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) Sylva Okolieaboh confirmed the harmonisation of elements of UTAS and IPPIS.
He explained to The Nation yesterday that a committee that commenced work on the harmonisation on November 1 has three months to complete its assignment.
Okolieaboh expressed optimism that the committee will lay a foundation for a new relationship between the Federal Government and the ASUU and assured that his office would give the committee the needed support to succeed in its assignment.
The Association of Nigeria Universities Alumni (ANUA) had earlier yesterday warned that the half-salary paid to ASUU members for the month of October was capable of reversing the gains of interventions of critical stakeholders that ended the eight-month strike.
It, therefore, advised the government to toe the path of honour by releasing the withheld salaries to prevent a fresh crisis in the university system.
“The Association of Nigeria Universities Alumni observed the turn of events in the Nigeria university education sector in the past few days which saw the Federal Government paying members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) half salary of one month out of the backlog of salaries owed to them for the eight months industrial action that was recently called off. On the one hand, as critical stakeholders and parents, we are appalled by this decision of the government not to pay the backlog of salaries to the lecturers,” it’s President, Stephen Fashakin, and Secretary Muhammed Sani said in a statement.
Parents have called on the government to cancel the ‘no-work, no-pay rule and pay lecturers for the sake of students and to prevent a recurrence of strikes by ASUU.
They urged First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, to use her position as mother of the nation to prevail on Buhari to do the needful.
“We beg the government to pay the lecturers for the sake of our children and for peace to reign. It is unfortunate that ASUU might go on strike again. Since the union has honoured the court order, the Federal Government should please understand that the gesture must be reciprocated.
President is also a parent; we are pleading with the Federal Government to not insist on the ‘no work no pay’ rule, for sanity and stability to return to our universities,” said Deputy President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) Adeolu Ogunbanjo.
Worried students of the Federal University, Lokoja (FUL) have pleaded with ASUU not to resume strike until the completion of their second-semester exams.
They argued that it would be disastrous if their exams scheduled to commence on November 14 failed to hold.
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