Minister for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has again heaped blame on Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) over the lingering strike .
Ngige who debunked the recent statement credited to the University of Jos Chapter of ASUU, led by one Dr. Maigoro, that he was to blame for the protracted strike by the lecturers. He said the Federal Government had fulfilled all the demands by ASUU for which the union went on strike on March 9, 2020.
In a statement from his office in Abuja, the minister said: “It is rather ASUU which has bluntly refused to reciprocate the Federal Government offers by refusing to either teach, conduct researches or engage in other academic values for which they are paid, that should be held responsible.
“Strangely, ASUU claims ‘patriotism’ as basis for this prolonged industrial action, forcing every patriot to raise concern over this weird definition of patriotism by ASUU officials. Living by its words, the Federal Government has fulfilled all the demands over which ASUU went on strike on March 9, 2020.”
Ngige said the visitation panels to the universities have been approved by the President and will swing into action once the universities re-open.
He added that the revival of the Renegotiation Committee for the 2009 ASSU/FG Agreement demanded by ASUU has been set up by the Ministry of Education, with Prof Munzali as Chairman, replacing the ex-chairman, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN).
“Similarly, government has also acceded to a hybrid payment platform which is not 100% IPPIS for the payment of salaries and Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances, pending the result and conclusion of the integrity and usability test on the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) by the National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
“Besides, government has also processed for payment N70 billion, comprising N40 billion for Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances and N30 billion for revitalisation of the universities. The Accountant General of the Federation at present awaits the accounts details from the Federal Ministry of Education and the National University Commission for the remittance.
“Of note is that even while ASUU was on strike during the COVID-19 lockdown, government, on the insistence of the Minister of Labour and Employment, and out of compassion, paid them February, March, April, May and June salaries to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 on them and their families and further made every entreaty to them to come on board virtual negotiations, with a view to an early call-off of strike, to enable students benefit from virtual/online classes, fashionable at the time, and even now, all over the universal academic community, but ASUU bluntly refused,” the statement further read.