Varsities to get N30bn revitalisation funds as IPPIS develops suitable template ― Labour Minister

•FG readies N22.172bn Earned Allowances for all university workers

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has disclosed that the Federal government will commence the disbursement of N30 billion revitalisation funds to public universities in no distant time.

Ngige stated this in his office after a conciliation meeting between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), on Thursday, 14th October 2021, evening in Abuja.

Convened by the Minister with an aim to evaluate the level of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both parties in December last year and the resolutions of the follow-up meeting held on August 2, 2021, Ngige told journalists that the meeting discussion was fruitful as six issues on the agenda were satisfactorily addressed.

He went on to say that the government was not dragging its feet on anything that would make the university system to be good, adding that they were desirous that public universities should be fit and proper places for learning and research.

Furthermore, he assured of the government’s commitment to uplifting the standard of Nigerian universities. He also said that the Buhari administration would try as much as possible within its limited resources, to make a meaningful contribution to the development of the university system.

Specifically, on the issue of revitalisation funds for public universities, the Minister said the meeting received an update from the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education and they were happy that the assignment given to them had been done satisfactorily.

His words: “NUC and the Federal Ministry of Education did their assignment in terms of getting the universities to come and defend the various allocations given to them based on the needs in the universities. A committee to monitor has also been sent up by NUC. We are happy about that and expect the disbursement of the revitalization funds to commence very soon.”

On the issue of Earned Allowances, Ngige said the meeting was equally satisfied with the work that the NUC had done, having compartmentalised the payments based on the universities and the existing unions.

He however disclosed that the sum of N22. 172 billion was provided in the 2021 Supplementary Budget for Earned Allowances to all workers in the universities. And further expressed optimism that the payments to the individual universities would commence very soon, as the meeting set a timeline for the payment to begin on or before October 30, 2021.

The Minister also said that the government has received the report from the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA on the preferred payment platform of ASUU, known as the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) system.

“We are also happy with the report they gave. We asked them to liaise with ASUU and NUC to work on this system for deployment by the users as soon as possible.” He added.

He also added that the meeting looked at the promotion arrears and other outstanding payments of the university teachers and gave the timeline of the end of October for the issues to be resolved once and for all by the universities, to enable the affected persons to enjoy the fruits of their promotion.

He hinted that the IPPIS office was asked to have a template and liaise with Vice-Chancellors and bursars in the universities to hold discussion next week, in order to develop a foolproof template that would enable everybody to get his or her salary.

“We have it on good authority that some university teachers have not been paid for several months because of issues of incomplete data. We have told the IPPIS office to gather those data as soon as possible to ensure that those university teachers were paid. A worker is due his wages. As Government, we don’t agree that we will use issues of incomplete data to hold back salaries of workers for months. We think that should be sorted out as well. We gave a timeline of the end of the month to do this.” Ngige said.

The Minister of Labour also revealed that as part of the decision reached at the meeting, the Federal Ministry of Education was also asked to fast forward the renegotiation process so that the product of the renegotiation would come to the Government to look at it and agree on the areas of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that are contained therein for speedy implementation and execution.

Meanwhile, the President of ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, expressed hope that all the issues would be resolved quickly for the benefit of the children, the university system and the country in general.

Major participants at the meeting were the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Peter Yerima Tarfa, Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, representatives of the Federal Ministry of Education, IPPIS Office, and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).

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