The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has said his Finance counterpart, Zainab Ahmed, will find means to pay the earned allowances to members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities because the Federal Government does not have money.
ASUU had on Monday, February 14, 2022, announced the commencement of a four-week strike following the failure of the government to honour some of its long-standing demands.
Following the strike, Ngige arranged a negotiation meeting with the union.
Though ASUU insisted that it would not call off its strike, Ngige said the implementation of most of the union’s demands were in progress.
But Ngige, while briefing our correspondent on the outcome of the meeting with ASUU on Tuesday, explained that the government had no money but the finance minister would look for how to pay the earned allowances to the lecturers.
He stated, “We have only one or two areas that are new. One of the new areas is the renegotiation of the conditions of service, which is called the 2009 agreement. An agreement was reached in 2009 that their conditions of service would be reviewed every five years. It was done in 2014.
“We started one in which the former University of Lagos Pro-Chancellor, Wale Babalakin, chaired the committee. After Babalakin, Prof Manzali was in charge and the committee came up with a draft document proposed by the Federal Ministry of Education and ASUU.
“Today, Manzali’s committee has become defunct because many of the people in the committee are no longer pro-chancellors. A new team has been constituted to have a second look at that document to make sure that some of the allowances are not against the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission’s fixed rates for wages and allowances.
“If you propose allowances that do not comply with NSIWC rates, the government will not accept it. So, it is important that they do the right thing from the beginning so that whatever the committee presents can be approved by the Federal Executive Council.”
On the issue of UTAS, he said the meeting mandated a joint committee of ASUU, the National Universities Commission and the National Information Technology Development Agency to conduct an integrity test on the platform in conjunction with neutral experts.
Ngige added, “We told them to conclude the test by March 8. If they conclude, we are expected to work on it within six weeks.
“Once we conclude the reconciliation, if the Federal Government is in arrears on any tranche, the finance minister will look for money to pay, even though the Federal Government does not have money.
“Earned allowance is an allowance for excessive workload. Last year, it was paid based on the rule of the thumb theory of 10 per cent of the total personnel cost. This year, we have told the NUC to put up a committee and within the next three weeks, come up with a figure that will be sent to the Finance minister.
“For me, I think we are on course; ASUU should go to the members and show them offers made to them by the government so that they can call off the strike.”