SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
The Federal Government has said that it would not yield to the pressure from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to exclude the universities from complying with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.
According to the Federal Government, ASUU’s demand in that respect, which was one of the reasons the union had embarked on an indefinite strike, was unreasonable because the policy did not apply to universities alone. It further argued that there was no going back on the total implementation of the policy in view of the fact that it had so far proved to be helpful in checking corruption in public service.
This position of the government was disclosed by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu on Wednesday while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister said: “ASUU requested that they should be allowed to stay off TSA and I think government will not do this because there are some peculiar funds in the university like endowment funds which are monies kept and all the interest they generate, prices and so on are given. Government will exempt that one only, but for universities it is part of the peculiarities, they just must log on. I hope later on when I meet them today there will be total agreement,” he said. ASUU had on Monday declared an indefinite nationwide strike, citing breaches of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between FG/ASUU in 2009 and 2013, Earned Allowances, special pension scheme for Academic Staff, funding for staff schools within the university system among others.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi who declared the strike attributed it to recalcitrance of government in meeting these demands.But Adamu faulted the strike by ASUU, saying that the union clearly negated the constitutional provision of notifying government adequately before embarking on any industrial action.He said: “It is very sad that I am here and ASUU is on strike. Late last year we had a meeting because ASUU gave one week ultimatum of strike and we were able to work out some agreement. I must confess government has not fulfilled its part of the bargain. Even though we are unhappy that ASUU went on this strike without following due process and giving us good notice, we realised that we promised something and we didn’t fulfill it. I will be meeting them later today or tomorrow and am sure we will be able to reach some agreement so that the strike will be called off as soon as possible”.
On the earned allowances, Adamu admitted that N30billion had initially been paid to ASUU to cover the special allowances but the inability by the lecturers to give proper account of the initial disbursement stalled the release of the balance of N23billion since 2010. “There was communication differences which stalled the earned allowances, they have been paid N30billion, the problem actually arose because they were not able to account for the N30billion and we said we will only give them the balance if they are able to account for it and the balance is N23billion, the total is N53billion and government has the money to pay.
“Am sure you are aware of other issues we agreed on, there is the issue of re-negotiation which is the only one they agreed government has done what it promised because we set up the re-negotiation team and negotiation is already ongoing.”There is the issue of Earned Allowances and I think because of some miscommunication what we promised could not be done, but am assuring ASUU and the whole nation that this is going to be done.”There is the issue of registration for Nigerian Universities Pension Commission I think that one there are few issues that need to be sorted out with the Nigerian Pension Commission, I believe there will be no problem with that. The issue of their staff school which I think the court has given them verdict to go ahead with it”, the Minister said.
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