The federal government on Thursday, insisted that there will be no salary payments for members of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the periods they did not work.
This is just as the government expressed the hope that the ongoing ASUU strike will be over in a couple of weeks
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated this at the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team, on Thursday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Adamu insisted that the Federal government will not pay salaries for the periods they will stay away from work, adding that the measure is aimed at deterring others who may contemplate similar strike in future.
Recall that members of ASUU had insisted on being paid the backlog of salaries withheld over the ongoing strike, as part of their demands for returning to work.
Adamu lamented that the ongoing strike by the university-based unions came despite the N6.3trillion expended on education by the present administration directly as well as by agencies such as TEFFUND and UBEC, on recurrent and capital projects
Adamu informed that the University Perculiar Personnel and Payroll System (U3PS) and the the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) outscored the Integrated Personnel Payroll and Information System (IPPIS) during the integrity tests conducted, affiming that ASUU ‘s peculiarities will be accommodated in whatever platform that may me adopted.
He stated that five of the university-based unions will likely call off their strike within the next one week while that of ASUU is not certain.
He stated that government rejected ASUU’s demand to be paid the salary backlog because it believes that there has to be penalties for their action.
However, he noted that ASUU had begun consultations with their members to determine whether to call off their strike as well.
He said the UTAS had not been approved by government as had been speculated.
He revealed that insistence by ASUU that they be paid six months salaries for the strike period is what is stalling the negotiations between the Federal Government and the lecturers.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari rejected it outrightly when he presented the report to him.
He explained that “all contentious issues between the government and ASUU had been settled except the quest for members’ salaries for the period of strike be paid, a demand that Buhari has flatly rejected.”
The Minister said it is important for the public to be aware that “the Federal Government is paying the salaries of every staff in its tertiary institutions, academic and non-academic staff, while these institutions are also in full control of their internally generated revenue (IGR).
The minister said that the President’s position had been communicated to the lecturers who are being awaited to call off the strike.
He stated that the President’s rejection of ASUU’s requests was to curb the excesses of trade unions, adding that the President’s rejection of their requests was part of the “ measures to curtail future strikes, by ASUU members”
Adamu further disclosed that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) payment system proposed by ASUU has outscored the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) already in use by government and which the lecturers are kicking against.
He also revealed that the IPPIS has been updated to now accommodate payment of those on sabbatical.
“Just one thing that I was reminded even the current IPPIS has been made to accommodate sabbatical. I didn’t know this. Somebody just told me.”
Recall the lecturers had accused government of not considering the peculiarities of tertiary institutions in the IPPIS.
Adamu also debunked the report that UTAS had been approved by government as the payment platform for University lecturers.
He said that the government has proposed a new salary structure for the unions which he said the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists, (NAAT), have accepted in principle and are now consulting with their members with a view to call off the strike in the next one month.
He, however commended the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) for calling off its own strike.
The Minister also noted that it is the responsibility of ASUU to compensate students for the time wasted from the six-month strike, not the Federal Government.
that the affected students should “take ASUU to court” to claim for damages incurred over strike period.
According to him, the federal government bears no liability to compensate millions of students grounded for six months over lost time, saying that if the students are determined to get compensated, they should take ASUU to court.
“We are doing everything humanly possible to conclude on the negotiations. It is our hope that the outcome of the renegotiations will bring lasting industrial peace to our campuses. In the main time, I am sure that the current efforts would yield the desired results and return our children back to school.”
Adamu, also called for crackdown on perpetrators of examination malpractice, which he said has been covered to be a cartel.
He called on the examiners to work closely with law enforcement agencies to “crackdown on examination malpractice”.
According to him, despite efforts to raise the integrity of the examination system in schools nationwide, the Ministry still grapples with malpractice perpetrated both at the exams councils and school levels.
He lauded the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board for its efforts at stemming malpractice, saying more works need to be done.
The minister also said that the Buhari’s administration has expended a total of N6,003,947,848,237 in capital and recurrent expenditure in the education sector in the last seven years.
He said this was in addition to interventions from TETFund and UBEC amounting to N2.5 trillion and N553,134,967,498 respectively in capital investment.
“We must also note and appreciate the huge investments from States and the private sector at all levels of our educational system. We will continue to improve on the implementation of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) all through to 2023 for the overall development of the education sector and the Nigerian nation.
“We will continue to create the necessary enabling environment to attract more and more private sector investment. We shall hand over a better education sector than we met it.”
Adamu said that the number of out of school children has dropped from an estimated 13 million to 6.9 million, with an impressive enrollment from online states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Rivers and Ebonyi.
He linked the increased enrollment to activities of the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA).