There is a very strong indication that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), may call off her strike on Wednesday and direct the varsity lecturers to resume work after months of industrial action has paralysed university academic activities.
However, the issue of withheld salaries of ASUU members during the period of the strike, especially the mode of payment to be adopted in paying the withheld teachers’ salaries may still constitute a bottleneck to final resolution of the crisis.
Already, the Federal Government and ASUU had reached agreement on vital issues, leading to the assurance that the union would not overstretch its luck by calling off the strike, after reporting government’s efforts to its National Executive Council (NEC).
The NEC is expected to take a decision on the issue, which the ASUU leadership would report to the meeting between the Federal Government and the union tomorrow.
The last meeting held between the Federal Government and ASUU at the Ministry of Labour and Employment deliberated exhaustively on the issues in contention and reached conclusions.
On the issue of funding for revitalization of public universities, the agreement read: “Government, in spite of the economic downturn as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, brought an offer of N20 billion payable by the end of January 2021 and ASUU agreed to take the offer to its members for consideration and revert by Wednesday October 21, 2020.
“The Minister of Education will follow up with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on its earlier memo to Mr. President on sources of alternative funding for revitalization to facilitate the process of additional funding of the university system. This is with a view to reactivating the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of 2013 as agreed in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) of 2019”
Also on the controversial issue of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the agreement said: “responding to the demand by ASUU for the payment of the two tranches which accumulated to N40 billion that has become overdue since November, 2019, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) committed to release N30 billion on or before November 6, 2020. The remaining N10 billion would be spread equally over the two tranches to be paid in May 2021 and February 2022, respectively.
“The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) should quickly conclude the verification of figures of Earned Academic Allowances claims so as to clean up the figures from 2014 to 2020. To this end, a committee would be constituted by the National University Commission (NUC) to develop a template that would capture all the agreed allowances in the 2009 agreement for all the unions in the universities.
“Thereafter, the OAGF and the National University Commission (NUC) are to quickly conclude the verification of the EAA figures, so as to defray the payment from 2014 to 2020. ASUU is to work with the OAGF and NUC to achieve that by the end of December 2020. The process of mainstreaming of the EAA into the annual budget using the agreed formula shall be activated. NUC and Ministry of Education are to coordinate the activation process immediately and to be concluded by November 6, 2020.
“The National Assembly (NASS) has agreed to implement this process of mainstreaming, provided the amount involved is sent in as quickly as possible by the Ministry of Education”