Following a deadlock reached between striking university lecturers and the federal government in Monday’s meeting, the government has resolved to meet with the governing council of universities as well as their vice chancellors to resolve the demand of the lecturers.
This was disclosed by the Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, who is the chairman of the Presidential Universities’ NEEDS Assessment Committee, and head of the federal government’s negotiation team.
Mr. Suswam, who addressed State House Correspondents after briefing President Goodluck Jonathan on the outcome of the meeting held with the lecturers on Monday, said the federal government had decided to provide N30 billion out of the N92 billion needed to pay the allowances demanded by the lecturers.
At the end of Monday’s meeting, the lecturers, ASUU, had turned down the government’s offer of N30 billion to be used as part payment for their allowances. The lecturers said they stood by their demand of the government implementing the 2009 agreement it had with the university lecturers.
Mr. Suswam, however, said negotiations are still ongoing.
“Well let me say that negotiation is still ongoing, the federal government has opted to also meet with the Councils and managements of the universities because earned allowance is something that can be certified by the management and councils of the universities.
“The federal government said it is assisting the university councils with the sum of N30 billion for them to go and verify the people who actually earn these allowances and pay them,” Mr. Suswam said on Monday.
The Benue governor said progress was already being made in the government’s negotiations with ASUU who have been on strike for seven weeks.
“ASUU said that this is the amount of money that the FG is owing them and the FG has shifted ground from its initial posture of there was no money to offering N30 billion.
“It means we are moving forward and with a N100 billion available now for addressing the physical infrastructure deficit in our universities, I think the federal government has done quite well to have moved to where we are today,” he said.
Mr. Suswam said the federal government would continue to do its best to resolve the issues and get students back to campuses, as well as provide infrastructure worth N100 billion as part of measures to improve the learning environment for students.
“The president has graciously agreed that in the first week of September he will be able to flag-off the projects. The procurement process will have to be followed and these projects includes hostels in our universities, classrooms and theaters, libraries and laboratories amongst others.
“Some are renovation, some are new and all the 61 universities are going to benefit from one project or another, so it is not going to be selective, all the universities are going to benefit from this infrastructural revitalization of our universities,” he said.
The Finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had cautioned on increasing recurrent expenditure in Nigeria, saying “We need to make choices in this country as we are getting to the stage where recurrent expenditures take the bulk of our resources and people get paid but can do no work.”