The hope of many university students across the country to resume academic activities soon may have been dashed.
The striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has rejected the offers made to it early this week by the Nigerian government.
At the seventh meeting with the leadership of ASUU on Tuesday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the labour dispute with the university teachers was on the verge of being resolved. He listed the fresh concessions made by the administration to ASUU.
According to Mr Ngige, the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance presented evidence that N15.4 billion had been released to public universities.
On earned academic allowances, he said President Muhammadu Buhari approved N20 billion to offset arrears of the 2009 to 2012 verified earnings by university teachers.
But in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES early Saturday morning, the President of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, said upon reviewing the offers made by the government, members of the union across various campuses and zones rejected it.
Mr. Ogunyemi, who described government’s offer on the outstanding revitalization fund of N1.1 trillion as tokenism, said members are insisting that government should release at least a tranche of N220 billion spread over four quarters of 2019.
He added that on earned allowances, government’s proposal should not be lesser than the total amount released “the last time” out of the verified balance.
Recall that as part of the agreement reached between the union and the government before ASUU ended its industrial action in September 2017, the Federal Government released a total N22.9 billion for earned allowances of both academic and non-academic staff across 22 Federal universities.
Of the amount, academics under ASUU got N18.3billion, while non-teaching staff belonging to the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) got N4.6 billion.
The sharing formula, which was condemned by the three non-academic staff unions, had led to pockets of protests across various campuses at the time, and eventually compelled the unions to embark on prolonged strike.
Apparently to avoid the controversy that greeted the sharing of the allowance in 2017, ASUU is insisting that the Federal Government should categorically state the amount earmarked for its members, which it said must not be lesser than N18.3 billion it received then.
Mr Ogunyemi said; “Our members have rejected tokenism with respect to outstanding revitalization fund of N1.1 trillion. They are insisting that government should release at least one tranche of N220 billion spread over four quarters of 2019.
“On earned academic allowances, our members said government’s proposed amount out of the verified balance should not be less than the total amount released last time, while evidence of mainstreaming the allowances into the 2019 budget should be shown. Also, timeline should be attached to payment of the balance of the arrears.
“The revitalization fund and earned academic allowances are the two critical areas on which our members feel strongly about. They expect necessary adjustments on the part of government before they can reconsider their decision on the ongoing strike action.”
ASUU had embarked on what it termed total and indefinite strike on November 4, 2018, to demand improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements entered with the government.
Some of the demands as contained in the ASUU’s list of grievances, include the implementation of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreements, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU; 2012 and 2013) and Memorandum of Action (MoA, 2017) and the truncation of the renegotiation of the union’s agreements.
The union said its ongoing strike is aimed at compelling the government to make funds available for the revitalisation of public universities based on the FGN-ASUU MoU of 2012, 2013 and the MoA of 2017, and that the operational license of the Nigerian University Employees Pension Company (NUPEMCO) should be released.
The unions also asked for the release of the forensic audit report on Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), payments of all outstanding earned academic allowances and the mainstreaming of same into the 2019 budget.
The lecturers also demanded the payment of all arrears of shortfall in salaries to all universities that have met the verification requirements of the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA).
Meanwhile, one of the major issues that has been dragging the negotiations forth and back is the revitalisation of the universities.
As at Saturday morning, the government was yet to release the N1.1 trillion of the N1.3 trillion it agreed to provide for the exercise.
The 2013 MoU stipulated that public universities needed N1.3 trillion for a modest revitalisation. The fund was to be paid in tranches of N200billion in 2013, N220billion in 2014, N220billion in 2015, 220billion in 2016, N220billion in 2017 and N220billion in 2018.
The Goodluck Jonathan-led administration released N200 billion in 2013 but since then nothing more has been paid.
Earlier, after its meeting with the Federal Government and shortly after the Labour and Employment Minister went to town with the message of a possible return of the lecturers to their classrooms, ASUU had indicated the possibility of its members not accepting the concessions.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday afternoon, Mr Ogunyemi had said the union was yet to reach an agreement with the government on any issue.
He said what the union took from the government were proposals because “We told them where there were low and what our members will not take but they said that was the best they could give.”
According to him, the difference between the last meeting and earlier ones was that it was the first time the union was given figures “that we could take back to our members.”
He said the union leaders warned government representatives that ASUU members were not likely to accept those figures “but they insisted that we should go and inform them first.”
“We agreed to go back to our members in order to show to them that we are not difficult people. We have been having consultations and telling the government the initial reactions we are getting. So, if they want this problem resolved, they should consider the low things.”
Speaking on the revitalisation of universities, Mr. Ogunyemi said if government does not release another tranche of the agreed sum, his members would think the government is not ready to solve the problem.
“Revitalisation is key to this issue. That was the point I was making when we had the exit engagement and Senator Ngige was saying we agreed on many issues. There are issues that did not require agreement. If you say you will set up a committee and you do, it is implementation not agreement. So, our intention is not to attack any government but to get our demands,” he said.
“They didn’t release any money. If we are talking about the N1.1 trillion that they should release in tranches and government has not said they will work towards releasing one tranche, then how do you think our members will take that from us? They are mixing up issues. They did not tell us if the N20 billion is a deposit.”
He said no Nigerian would believe the country does not have money to resolve some of the contentious issues.
“I don’t believe any Nigeria will believe government does not have money for what they see as a priority. We keep telling them that overnight they brought out N800 billion to bail out what they now call Polaris Bank. When they had a problem with subsidy, they knew where they went to; so they cannot keep telling us there is no money,” he said.
On when the union would meet the government to reopen negotiation, Mr Ogunyemi said the union was still consulting.
“I am not going to determine whether we are resuming or not. Our members will determine that and we will go back to them,” he said.
When asked what ASUU would be doing next, Mr Ogunyemi said the union was preparing its response to government.
Why 36 Governors will work for Buhari`s re-election
Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State has said the 36 state governors of the federation, would for many reasons work to ensure the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming election.
Mr Yari, who is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the inauguration of the Forward With Buhari Grassroots Mobilisers Goodwill Ambassadors.
He said the organisation was being sponsored by the NGF, and that it was its brain child.
According to him, governors across the federation will rather vote for Mr Buhari even if they belong to opposition political parties.
This, he said, was especially so because Mr Buhari had done a lot for the governors irrespective of party affiliation.
Mr Yari said one of such things was the bailout fund which was paid to all state governors to off-set workers’ salaries and outstanding arrears.
The NGF chairman said this was paid across board, adding that the fund went a long way in improving the lot of people in the states.
He further said the Buhari’s administration had also embarked on infrastructural development across states, saying that this was another reason the governors were working to ensure his re-election.
He, however, tasked governors especially those in All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled states, to coordinate door-to-door campaigns across their states.
Mr Yari said this was critical to ensuring a landslide victory for Mr Buhari and all APC candidates in the coming elections.
“As governors, the responsibility is on us to work for the actualisation of President Buhari`s re-election come February 16,” he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented at the event by the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, expressed happiness at the inauguration of the organisation.
Mr Osinbajo, however, noted that a lot needed to be done to sensitise the people at the grassroots on the achievements of the Buhari-led Federal Government across all sectors of the country`s economy and why he should be re-elected.
He stressed that the task ahead of the organisation was enormous considering the number of parties on the ballot paper and the need to guide the electorate to vote.
The vice president maintained that under the Buhari administration, the country`s economy was growing stronger while infrastructural development had continued across the country.
Earlier, Lawal Shuaibu, coordinator of the organisation, said it was established to give visibility, with sustained momentum, to the achievements of the Buhari-led administration.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inauguration was attended by youths from across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Major shake up in Nigeria Air Force, 72 senior officers redeployed
The Nigeria Air Force has redeployed a total of 72 senior officers comprising 27 Air Vice Marshalls, 30 Air Commodores, eight Group Captains, four Wing Commanders and three Squadron Leaders for operational efficiency and effectiveness.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Ibikunle Daramola, announced this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Daramola, an air commodore, said prominent among those affected by the new postings are: AVM Emmanuel Anebi who is now the Chief of Policy and Plans Headquarters NAF (HQ NAF) and AVM Nurudeen Balogun, who has been appointed as the Chief of Defence Policy and Plans at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).
He listed others to include, AVM Charles Otegbade who has been appointed as the College Secretary, National Defence College, while AVM Rufus Ojuawo who is taking over as the Chairman Air Expo and International Liaison Secretariat.
“Other appointments include those of AVM Napoleon Bali as the new Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Special Operations Command, Yenagoa, AVM Oladayo Amao as the new Chief of Training and Operations at HQ NAF”, he said.
He said AVM Abdulganiyu Olabisi as the new AOC Logistics Command, Ikeja and AVM John Baba as the new AOC Tactical Air Command.
Mr Daramola further said AVM Mahmoud Ahmed has been redeployed as the Air Secretary HQ NAF and AVM Remigus Ekeh appointed as the new Chief of Standards and Evaluation at HQ NAF,
He also said AVM Ibukun Ojeyemi becomes the new Director of Policy at HQ NAF.
Furthermore, AVM Musibau Olatunji is now the Director of Air Engineering at HQ NAF, while AVM Peter Uzezi has been appointed as the new AOC Mobility Command.
“Also appointed are AVM Dahiru Sanda, who is now a Directing Staff at National Institute of Policy and Strategic studies, and AVM Ismaila Yahaya as the new Director of Training at HQ NAF, AVM Idi Lubo as Director NAF Transformation at HQ NAF,” he said.
Also redeployed was AVM Mohammed Yakubu, redeployed as the Chief of Logistics HQ NAF and AVM Emmanuel Wonah as the new Director of Sports at DHQ.
Mr Daramola also announced that AVM Paul Jemitola has been appointed as the new Director Research and Development at HQ NAF, AVM Anderson Kassimu as Director Civil Military Relations at DHQ and AVM Ibrahim Ali as the new Deputy Commandant, Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna.
“Meanwhile, AVM Musa Tanko is to take over as Director of Space Utilization at DHQ while AVM Musa Muktar has been redeployed as the new Chief of Aircraft Engineering at HQ NAF.
“In addition, AVM Maxwell Nnaji has been appointed as the new Chief of Communication Information Systems at HQ NAF,” it said.
He further said AVM Emmanuel Chukwu is now the new Director Earth Observation at Defence Space Administration and AVM Aliyu Bello as the new Chief of Staff at Headquarters Special Operations Command.
Mr Daramola said AVM Olusegun Philip is to take over as the new Director of Evaluation at HQ NAF, while Air Commodore Abraham Adole has been appointed as the Principal Air Staff Officer to the Chief of the Air Staff.
Air Commodore Ayodele Laoye is now Director of Procurement and Group Captain Jika Sanda is the Director of Legal Services HQ NAF.
He said the newly posted and redeployed senior officers were expected to take over their new offices not later than January 25.
Minimum Wage: ULC, TUC, NLC reject N27,000; hold crucial meetings
The National Council of State adopted the N27,000 on Tuesday.
The post Minimum Wage: ULC, TUC, NLC reject N27,000; hold crucial meetings appeared first on Premium Times Nigeria.
Suspect reveals what he did to stolen pants
Only Blackface can explain the problem he has with me – 2face Idibia
Why 36 Governors will work for Buhari`s re-election
Major shake up in Nigeria Air Force, 72 senior officers redeployed
Cardiff City’s new signing Sala missing after plane disappears over English Channel
Now you can steal the whole Nigeria, once you join APC you’re safe- Obasanjo
Chief Rasaq Akanni Okoya Celebrates 79th Birthday In Style
Affording Buhari a second term will be betrayal of our justice – Georgina Onuoha
New international passport to cost N70,000
Nigerian govt demands resignation of CJN Onnoghen
News5 months ago
Calm returns at Maiduguri Airport after Soldier’ gun protest
Business5 months ago
Photos from Tony Elumelu’s Mother’s 90th birthday party
News2 months ago
Video: Fire engulfs Forte Oil filling station at Local Airport in Lagos
News3 months ago
Angola sets to close down unregistered churches
Politics10 months ago
Nigerian judges burdened with too many cases — Ajimobi
Business11 months ago
Jim Ovia pledges ₦250m to Lagos State Security Trust Fund
Entertainment3 months ago
Kanye West & Kardashian clan’s Photographer, Marcus Hyde hospitalized after ghastly auto crash
General5 months ago
The world’s hottest grandma Gina Stewart flaunts her pert derrière