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ASUU’s Threat To Go On Indefinite Strike Out Of Ignorance Of Current Reality – Minister

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has said that the threat by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embark on indefinite nationwide strike again shows that the members are not aware of the latest developments.

Dr. Ngige, in a chat with newsmen today, December 16 in Abuja, recalled the crisis that had been brewing between ASUU and their direct employer, which is the Ministry of Education, saying that it all revolved around the Memorandum of Action signed in 2020.

He said that last year December, the President gave them a blanket clemency “and we paid them their money for the nine months, spanning into January, February of this year.

“We gave them back nearly nine months’ pay. After doing that, we also gave them a revitalization fund for N40 billion, early this year, for the revitalization of the university system.

“In the MoA, we agreed that they should get another revitalization this year and by last July, August, the money for revitalization was paid to them, for the university system that were entitled to that. N30 billion was paid.

“Last week, N22.127 billion was also released to the university system for the unions, workers university system to benefit in consonance with the MoA we signed in December 2020.”

According to Dr. Ngige, a lot of the members don’t know that the federal government had paid this quantum of money.

“Maybe it has not gotten into the accounts of the people, the persons involved, but I expected ASUU to inform their people; let them know that this is what has happened.

“They also have a grouse with the negotiation of 2009. The 2009 agreement was being renegotiated before Babalakin left and a new committee was set in place.

“That committee had advisors from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labor and Employment, Minister of Budget and then Head of Service of the Federation and Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, because part of the renegotiation was the renegotiation of the conditions of service.

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“So, a lot of the ministries and agencies that served on that committee as advisors did not agree with the content of the agreement they reached.

“Minister of Education and his ministry did not also agree with that recommendation.

“So, as far as government is concerned, those recommendations are still at the level of what we call CBA, … bargaining agreement, at the level of the ministry.

“If the ministry agrees, the ministry will send it off to the Presidential Committee on Salaries, which is a high-level body for that, and we will look at it, and then advise them.

“It hasn’t come to the stage, now that ASUU members and chambers are flexing muscles and saying that government has refused to sign.

“We have not gotten to the level of signing; we are doing an internal committee meeting with the Ministry of Education, so it’s important that people know what the correct situation is.”

The Minister of Labour stressed that when they finish at Education, they would bring it to him in Labour and he ll forward it to the Finance Committee on Salaries, of which he is a member and Co-Chair.

“So, it’s not that the government is reneging; it’s important we tell the public that this is the situation.

“Same goes for their UTAS, university transparency solution platform, they have developed.

“The government is desirous. Nr. President has signed many executive orders; Executive Order 5, Executive Oder 3, on local content, anything that will save us foreign exchange, we are for it. “We have a government agency that is regulating everything that is digital communication platform, so that government agency is NITDA.

“So, they (NITDA) have subjected that solution to that center for interrogation.”

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