By Hanson Chidozie
The Federal Government has flayed the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universites (ASSU), describing the action as unnecessary at this time.
It is interesting to note however that, Mallam Adamu Adamu the Minister of Education, who gave this opinion of the government at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, had admitted that government had not fulfilled its own part of the agreements with the lecturers who has resorted to this latest industrial action.
Adamu, said the lecturers had requested that universities should be allowed to stay out of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) but Federal Government was not willing to accede to this particular demand.
Said he, “Universities will not be exempted from Treasury Single Account (TSA),but negotiation with striking lecturers will continue to meet their (other) demands.”
He explained that some peculiar funds in the universities, like endowments, prizes and so on, will get exemption, and assured that the government would continue its negotiations with ASUU to fulfill their demands.
He acknowledged that ASUU had late last year issued a one-week strike notice leading to a meeting where agreements were reached but noted that the Association did not follow due process for the current strike.
The minister also drew the attention of public to the fact that they earlier agreed on eight issues ASSU.
“Already, let’s say there was the issue of negotiation which is the only one they agreed that government has done what it promised because we set up the negotiation team and the negotiation is already on-going.
“There is the issue of their earned allowances and I think that because of some miscommunication what was promised could not be done but I am assuring ASUU and the nation that this is going to be done.
“There is the issue of registration for the Nigerian Universities’ Pension Commission.I think in that one, there are few issues that they need to sort out with the Nigerian Pension Commission and I believe that there will be no problem there.
“The other is the issue of their staff school which I think the court has given them the verdict to go ahead with it, and expressed hope that, “ government and the striking lecturers would reach trusted agreements on the demands.”
Explaining further on the TSA, he said that because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) does not give interest on it that was why endowments was exempted but other payments could be made into it.
He said that ASUU had been paid N30 billion of the allowances requested but because they were unable to render account of its disbursement it was stopped.
“The figures that I know, they have been paid N30 billion and the problem actually arose because they were not able to account for this N30 billion.
“And we said we will only give them the balance if they are able to account and the balance is N23 billion,’’ he stated
The minister noted that government had N53 billion total amount that ASSU was demanding, to pay, but that it was accountability that was really the issue.