ASUU strike: FG confirms payment of N200bn, shifts resumption deadline to December 9 By Ali Adoyi on December 4, 2013

Federal Government Tuesday confirmed that the N200b it promised the nation’s Universities has already been deposited in an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe and the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie, disclosed this separately on Tuesday. The amount has been approved to develop infrastructures in the nation’s public universities. Speaking on Channels Television programmer ‘Sunrise Daily,’ Okupe said that government had done all that should be done in its effort towards re-opening the nation’s Universities. He said that almost all the demands of the universities lecturers had been met, and that President Goodluck Jonathan had kept his own part of the agreement as resolved in the last meeting held with the Union in October. “At the end of that meeting, the government proposed that everything that has been agreed should be put in a Memorandum of Understanding and that the two parties should sign. But the leadership of ASUU declined and said instead of that, they would rather have a letter expressing everything that has been resolved therein, and that will suffice for them.” Okupe further affirmed that the attitude of the ASUU leadership clearly indicates that they were not willing to resolve the impasse. “It is unfortunate that somebody died, but notwithstanding, that cannot be a justification for delaying the implementation of an agreement for 21 or more days. Similarly, while speaking with newsmen in Abuja, the Executive Director, National Universities Commission, Prof. Okojie, who divulged that the government had already deposited the said money with the Central Bank, said that he got the confirmation of the deposit from both the Minister of Education and that of Finance. Recall that ASUU had asked the government to present proofs of deposit before the strike could be suspended. Okojie further argued that such money cannot be disbursed directly to Universities. “You don’t disburse such funds to institutions; it is not earned allowance. The Minister of Finance said since they opened the account, the money had been deposited there. If there was any doubt, NUC is here, they (ASUU) could have asked questions,” he said. The Commission boss said that all Vice Chancellors have been asked to give lecturers grace till December 9 to return to school. The extension was to allow them attend the burial of the former ASUU chairman, Festus Iyayi. Okojie said, “Council has been directed to shift the deadline to December 9 to allow those who have travelled to come back. That letter was only received yesterday from the burial committee which I also forwarded to the Minister of Education”, he said. Okojie had promised that salaries arrears of lecturers that resume by December 9 would be paid. “For those who resumed by December 9, their salary arrears will be paid. We can’t pay someone who is on strike salary. In a democracy, those who want to work should be allowed to work,” he added. Okojie, who admitted that ASUU and the Federal Government discussed the issue of renegotiation, maintained that it was not supposed to be included in the Memorandum of Understanding as demanded by the Union. According to him, either of the parties could call for renegotiation at any time.. The NUC boss claimed that ASUU went away after the meeting with the President with the mind that strike would be called off on Friday only “to come back to say you (government) didn’t include it.” “We are saying that if there was an issue, it would have been resolved. To come back after three weeks means we are going back. The issue of non-victimisation clause never arose,” he insisted. “Government is not going to victimise anybody. Because of the mood that day, nobody thought about it. The President shook hands with everybody on that day. The letter was written that night, they also vetted it. “Government will not victimise anybody. If any government is going to do that, it is not Jonathan’s government”, he assured. But ASUU President, Dr. Nasir Fagge, while reacting affirmed that the Union had already been informed about the development. Doubting government’s insincerity, he wondered why government, instead of responding to the union’s letter declared that the N200bn had been deposited with the CBN. He said, “What they are doing is that they will tell you something when in actual fact they have not done anything. There were previous times when they will call the public on a matter only for us to find out that it has not been done. If they have done it, what is wrong in them answering our letter? Why are they going to the public when we that they are supposed to respond to don’t know anything?”

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2 thoughts on “ASUU strike: FG confirms payment of N200bn, shifts resumption deadline to December 9 By Ali Adoyi on December 4, 2013

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