The Federal Government, on Monday, explained why it had not paid the University Revitalisation Fund and met other demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It also pleaded with university lecturers not to call another strike. Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, who stated this in an interview he gave to a national newspaper, said the government was “working hard” to ensure the release of the revitalisation fund by the Central Bank of Nigeria. However, ASUU, in its reaction, dismissed the minister’s explanation, saying the government was being dishonest in its justification of the delay in paying the revitalisation fund.
University lecturers went on strike for nine months last year following a disagreement between them and the government over the funding of universities and ineffectiveness and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). ASUU rejected it and, in its place, developed a University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS). It went to hold several meetings with officials of the ministries of finance, education, labour and employment, and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation where. UTAS was approved, but it has yet to be implemented.
However, on August 2, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the government had paid the revitalisation fund as contained in the Memorandum of Action signed with the lecturers. He said the money was in the custody of the CBN pending the conclusion of an audit. On his part, Nwajiuba stated on Monday that the government was ,”working hard” to have the money released, urging ASUU to be patient. He said the process of meeting ASUU’s demands was in progress. He, therefore, urged the union to reach out to the government.
The minister said, “Why won’t the Federal Government take their calls? You called me with an unknown number and I picked your call, so why won’t we pick calls from ASUU? Who did they reach out to? Talks on the funds for the revitalisation of universities and ASUU are in progress.
We believe the government has done enough for the ASUU to give it the benefit of the doubt. It said the university revitalization fund was with the CBN and it was “working hard” to have it released. The asked for patience. Unfortunately, patience is a scarce commodity in the ASUU shop. The association’s leadership is angry that education ministry’s officials are not taking phone calls. This is no reason for threatening a fresh strike. No, ASUU. No.