The Federal Government has agreed to release N30 billion as part payment of the Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).Sen. Chris Ngige. Minister of Labour and Employment said this at the end of a meeting between the Federal Government and ASUU on Friday in Abuja.“The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) was committed to release N30 billion on or before Nov. 6.“The remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022 respectively. The OAGF should quickly conclude the verification of figures of EAA claims so as to clean up the figures from 2014 to 2020.“To this end, a committee would be constituted by NUC to develop a template that would capture all the agreed allowances in the 2009 Agreement for all the Unions in the Universities.“Thereafter, the OAGF and the National University Commission (NUC) are to quickly conclude the verification of the EAA figures, so as to defray the payment from 2014 to 2020. ASUU is to work with the OAGF and NUC to achieve that by the end of December,” he said.He noted that the process of mainstreaming of the EAA into annual budget using the agreed formula shall be activated.He also said that the NUC and Ministry of Education are to coordinate the activation process immediately and should be concluded by Nov. 6th.
Ngige added that the National Assembly has agreed to implement the process of mainstreaming provided the amount involved is sent in as quickly as possible by the Ministry of Education.The minister also said that both parties agreed on the issue of funding for the revitalisation of public universities.“In spite of the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, government have offer N20 billion payable by the end of January 2021, ” he said.
He said that ASUU also agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration and revert by Oct. 21.“The Minister of Education will follow up with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on its earlier Memo to Mr President on sources of alternative funding for revitalisation to facilitate the process of additional funding of the University system.“This is with a view to reactivating the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 as agreed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2019,” he said.Ngige, however, said it was agreed that on the issue of Salary Shortfall that ASUU will confirm and report at the next meeting.On the state universities, it was agreed that the NUC Act will be amended in order to strengthen its regulatory capacity.It was agreed that ASUU will work with NUC on this and then involve the relevant Committee of the National Assembly.He noted that on the payment of EAA to ASUU members at the University of Ilorin that the issue has been resolved.Ngige however noted that the meeting was informed that the visitation panels to Federal Universities have been approved by Mr President, but they have not been gazetted.He said that the Federal Ministry of Education is to ensure gazetting within two weeks on or before Oct. 29th.“The meeting agreed that the Panel will be inaugurated latest by the end of November and the Panel will have a four to six weeks mandate to finish its work by Dec. 31st and submit two reports per university covering five years periods of 2011 – 2015 and 2016 – 2020,” he said.Ngige also revealed that government renegotiating team would be reconstituted on or before Oct. 31, and the renegotiation will be concluded on or before Dec. 31.On the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the meeting was informed that ASUU has met its timeline regarding the first stage of the initial demonstration of the efficacy of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) to government.The meeting also agreed that if UTAS passed all the integrity test, which involve the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), it would be adopted for the payment of the University staff.Meanwhile the meeting could not agree on how payment would be done for ASUU members during the transitional period of UTAS tests.It said that the government side again appealed to ASUU to enroll on IPPIS platform in view of the Presidential directive that all Federal Government employees should be paid via IPPIS.It added that they can thereafter be migrated to UTAS whenever certified digitally efficient and effective with accompanying security coverage.The ASUU maintained that given ASUU’s invention of UTAS, it should be exempted from IPPIS in the transition period.Also on the issue of withheld salaries of ASUU members, the meeting agreed that Government will pay this money as soon as the mode of payment is agreed upon by both parties.The meeting is to reconvene on Oct. 21 for ASUU to report back on the decision of her National Excecutive Counclil (NEC), in order to facilitate the calling off of their strike. (NAN)