Proposed strike: Senate committee, ASUU may reconvene on Thursday

Chairman Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, Senator Jibrin Barau, on Monday, disclosed  that the ad hoc sub-committee set up by Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and the ASUU/Federal Government delegations  may reconvene on Thursday to thrash out the only outstanding issue yet to be agreed upon by the university lecturers and government representatives.

Barau, who is the head of the Senate Intervention Subcommittee mediating between ASUU and the Federal Government, noted that Senate has made tremendous progress in its intervention to prevent the proposed strike, having reached agreement on five out of the six key issues raised by ASUU.

While informing newsmen at the National Assembly on the outcome of the sub-committee’s meeting with the ASUU and Federal Government’s delegation, he said: “We had about six issues and all of them were very well discussed. We deliberated and agreed on all of them except one, and that one has to do with the earned allowances.

“Now, they (ASUU) are asking for about N62 billion. Initially, N30 billion was given to the universities in 2013 and the agreement as signed between the Federal Government and the ASUU clearly specifies that upon the receipt of any payment, before any new payment is made, the last payment has to be accounted for.

“The Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) clearly wrote in one of its letters to the Ministry of Education that it is not satisfied with the level of accountability on the N30 billion.

“So, a letter was sent to the Ministry of Finance since March that the forensic audit to account for that money has not been done. They said no other further disbursement can be made except the money that was given is accounted for as clearly spelt out in the agreement.

“We then said, wait, the fact that the forensic audit was not carried out was not the fault of ASUU. So we then agreed that for the exercise to be conducted, it was estimated by experts that it would take six months to conclude the exercise.

“Then we said look, it will be unfair to ask ASUU to wait without being paid while the exercise is being carried out. We said ASUU should be paid N1billion every month while the forensic audit exercise is being carried out.

“ASUU said they will not take N1billion. We now asked ASUU to accept N1.5billion while the exercise is being concluded. ASUU said they will go back and consult with their members and that they are going to get back to us.

“Therefore, we are waiting for ASUU to get back to us but definitely the meeting may take place on Thursday so that we can thrash out the only one remaining issue, since we don’t have the luxury of time on our side. The Senate wants all contending issues to be resolved within the shortest time possible so as to keep the academic calendar running smoothly in all our universities,” he said.