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FG to release N30bn for varsities revitalization

The federal government has said the N30 billion revitalization fund would soon be released to public universities across the country.

Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment made this known on Thursday after a marathon conciliation meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) during which he disclosed that university workers will also get N22.172 billion as earned allowance.

The meeting was convened by the Minister to evaluate the level of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both parties in December 2020 and the resolutions of the follow-up meeting held on August 2, 2021.

Ngige who briefed newsmen after the meeting said they held fruitful deliberations, stressing that the six issues on the agenda were satisfactorily addressed.

The six issues table for discussion includes funding for revitalization of public universities; earned academic allowance, and University Transparency Accountability Solution; final report on the integrity test of UTAS by NITDA.

Others are Promotion Arrears; 2009 FG/ASUU Renegotiation Agreement; Inconsistencies in IPPIS Payment and State Universities: Progress report by ASUU/NUC.

Ngige assured ASUU 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.

He reaffirmed the commitment of the Government to uplifting the standard of Nigerian universities, saying the Buhari administration would try as much as possible within its limited resources, to make meaningful contributions to the development of the university system.

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

According to him, the 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 of the universities.
He said, “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 compartmentalized the payments based on the universities and the existing unions.

The minister said the sum of N22. 172 billion was provided in the 2021 Supplementary Budget for Earned Allowances to all workers in the universities.

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He 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.

Ngige also revealed that they 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 said.

According to Ngige, 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.

On the issue of shortfalls in payments, the Minister said the meeting asked the IPPIS office 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.

He said, “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.”

He added that the meeting asked the Federal Ministry of Education 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.

Responding, 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.
He decried a situation where not one item of the iss

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