The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) meet again, Wednesday, to discuss and both parties have been unable to find common grounds on the issues of payment platform for the union.
The union requests that the ₦30 billion for the Earned Academic Allowances from the federal government would be directed into the pockets of the union members alone which was rejected by the government.
BizWatch recalls that ASUU, on March 23, 2020, began its indefinite strike after the federal government had ordered all members of the union to sign up on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) or forfeit their salaries. The union also accused FG of not fulfilling its promises from 2013 and 2019.
Concerning the payment platform to be used by the FG to pay the salaries of members of the union, ASUU suggested the use of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) instead of IPPIS.
Speaking on the matter, after a two-hour meeting in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said to journalists, “This government is not against revitalization but this government says that because of the dire economic situation occasioned by COVID-19, we cannot really pay in the ₦110b which they are demanding for revitalisation.
“We offered N20b as revitalisation fund. On Earned Academic Allowances, the government offered ₦30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making it ₦50 billion altogether.
“ASUU is saying that the ₦30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this ₦30 billion.”
Revisiting the issue of the integrity test on UTAS to be performed by the National Information Development Agency (NITDA), as approved by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, Nigige said, “As you know last week, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test. This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today (Wednesday), they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA.
“Transition period is another issue. How do you get the Earned Academic Allowances that is due to you or any other entitlement that the government want to pay you?
“They want an exemption from the IPPIS and the government side headed by the Accountant-General of the Federation said that IPPIS is the only government-approved payment platform. So that is where were are for now.
“So we are all going back to our principals and they will receive from me the irreducible minimum of what the federal government has to offer.
“The government side will meet on Friday and after that, they will communicate with ASUU and in communicating with them, if there is a need for a meeting, a date will be fixed for it.”