From Maiharaji Altine, Gusau
After several months of face-off, the Federal Government has finally accepted the demand by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to be exempted from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS.
The Federal government has also agreed to pay all the lecturers outstanding salary from February to June this year through the old salary payment platform.
The government also offered to increase the earned allowances to university staff from N30bn to N40bn or N35bn and the revitalisation fund from N20bn to N25bn.
With this development, ASUU members are expected to end the current strike action and go back to class.
Reading the communique at the end of the meeting between ASUUP and the Federal government, the minister of labour and productivity, Mr. Chris Ngige said the Accountant General of the Federation had offered to release “N40bn or in the alternative, N35bn to be shared by all the registered trade unions in the universities after providing necessary evidence of having earned the allowance.
“The FG reiterated that her offer of N40bn or N35bn, whichever is accepted by ASUU, was for all the universities’ unions. ASUU had proposed that N40b be paid immediately for all unions.”
The minister stated that all vice chancellors were to submit details of the ‘EAA/EA’ to the National Universities Commission on or before November 30.
On the issue of withheld salaries, Ngige said the ministries of labour and education would review the issue of ‘no work, no pay’ as stipulated in Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
According to the Minister the lecturers would be paid on the old payment platform, pending the resolution of all issues.
“We are also reviewing how the lecturers will be paid on the old platform until UTAS is ready for usage said the minister.
“We agreed also that the withheld salaries are the component of the issue of ‘no work, no pay’ that was invoked and the Minister of Education and myself are working on that to get approval for the lifting of the embargo.
Ngige stressed that it was a transition period between the formalisation of UTAS.
Ngige added that, “As soon as we finish this, the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the National Universities Commission and the vice chancellors will work together to make sure that the withheld salaries were paid through the old platform, which the Accountant General’s office used in paying the salaries of university workers that were not captured on IPPIS for the months of February , March, April, May and June”.
He explained that the VCs, and NUC would monitor the make sure that there were no anomalies in the process.
Ngige expressed optimism that the two sides would meet again next Friday to set a date to end the strike embarked upon by ASUU since March 23.
The Federal government did not however approve the demand by the ASUU for immediate payment of 50 per cent of the initial revitalisation fund, which translates to N110bn due to its claim that the money was not available at the moment.
He stressed that the government had offered to pay a cumulative sum of N65 billion Between the revitalisation and EAA.
On the inauguration of universities visitation panel, Ngige said that would be determined after the universities have opened.
He explained that the Minister of Education had been directed to publicise details of the visitation panels, including terms of reference and composition of the panels before the end of November.
In his response, the ASUU President, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi said, progress had been achieved, stressing that, ASUUP members would be communicated on the issue and also seek for their stand and report back to the goverment.
A lecturer with the Federal University Gusau, Professor Mohammed Lawal Mayanchi who spoke to Analyzer news on the issue said ” The move is a right step in the right direction”.
Mayanchi however stressed that, members of the various unions would meet and decide on the next line of action to take before resuming to work.