Federal Government says it has released N163bn to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) pool.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, said this while addressing newsmen after a closed-door reconciliatory meeting with ASUU leadership on Monday in Abuja, the development ASUU president said he was not aware of.
Recall that the striking lecturers had embarked on strike on November 4, 2018, to press home their demands.
ASUU demands included some areas of understanding in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action agreed to in 2017.
Some of these areas include shortfall in salaries of some federal universities’ workers and lecturers, earned allowances, revitalisation that were part of the 2009 agreement, among others.
“Today we have agreed to fund revitalisation. Government has released about N163bn from TETFund account to universities.u
“So, we have gotten some substantial agreement in most of the areas of the^ agreement.”
“Most of the issues have being resolved, so they are going to go back to their members and present government’s offer to their council,” Ngige said.
He, however, added that if the total amount of the union’s demand was aggregated it would be more than the N50bn the union is said to be demanding as the government was paying in different compartments.
“These are debts of 2009, owed by the past administration that is 2009 to 2012, so it is not our own debt and we have been doing a lot to settle these debts.
“So, we will be reconvening at the instance of ASUU, they said they want to go and consult with their members and they cannot call off the strike without consulting with their members,’’
But in a swift reaction, ASUU president Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi told Blueprint that he was not aware of the release of any fund to the union as claimed by the minister of labour and employement, Dr Chris Ngige.
“I am not aware of any new release that has been to the universities. ASUU does not collect money directly from government. Only university vice chancellors can confirm if they received any money. Those we asked said arrears of salary shortfalls have not been released to them,” Prof Ogunyemi said.
Earlier, Labour Minister had said that President Muhammadu Buhari had mandated him to ensure that all issues concerning the ongoing strike in the university system were resolved.
“The president has directed me to pass the night here until all issues that have kept our children away from schools are resolved and strike called off.”
Ngige further said President Buhari was greatly worried about the situation in the university system, hence his steady and holistic approach to tackling the rot through adequate funding.