Desist from selling FG’s empowerment items, Ngige warns beneficiaries The Informant247

The Federal Government has again appealed to members of the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to immediately call off their prolonged industrial action and return to their students for resumption of academic work in the public universities.

While interacting with journalists in his office, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige made this appeal on Thursday.

Ngige said the Federal Government remained unrelenting in its efforts towards addressing all the industrial disputes in the university system, involving ASUU and the other unions.

According to him, everything contained in the December 2020 agreement was religiously executed to the extent that the Federal Government aggregately paid N92b from the 2021 budget to cover the revitalisation funds and Earned Academic Allowances/Earned Allowances for non-teaching staff.

The minister faulted the demand by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) for a high-powered panel with requisite mandate to resolve all the disputes within 21 days, saying the President had already put in place his own high-powered team, comprising his Chief of Staff, the Ministers of Labour, Education, Finance, Communication and Digital Economy.

Regarding the renegotiation of conditions of service of the university lecturers, Ngige maintained that the renegotiation must be guided by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principle of ability to pay.

He recalled that the former renegotiation committee headed by Prof. Jubril Munzali made a proposal of 200 percent rise in emoluments of university workers, but the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education said it cannot pay.

He said the university system and the teaching hospitals consume two thirds of all the emoluments currently paid from the national budget of the country, meaning that an increase for the lecturers would occasion upward review of the salaries of allied professionals in the health sector, based on their different salary structures.

He said, “There is no point giving you percentages on paper that nobody can pay. Munzali worked out a percentage which placed the university workers on about 200 percent pay rise. The Federal Government through the Education Ministry said they cannot pay. The Ministry of Finance said they cannot pay. They came to me and I said nothing is wrong with renegotiation because even if a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is signed, it could be renegotiated.

“The document produced by Munzali was not signed by both ASUU and the Federal Government. It is a proposal. Manzali’s committee had elapsed. The Education Ministry didn’t act as I wanted. The Minister was away but his luietnants didn’t do anything for five months, contrary to my expectations. The minister has set up another committee headed by Prof. Nimi Briggs. They have been working and I have given them six weeks to come up with a proposal.

On the payment platform for university lecturers, Ngige said NITDA informed him that UTAS proposed by ASUU passed user acceptability test but failed integrity and credibility test, which form the bulwark against hacking.

“NITDA said UTAS failed. ASUU said we didn’t fail. As we were discussing, ASUU went on strike.In the face of this disagreement between ASUU and NITDA, we are talking with NITDA to bend backwards so that there will be a handshake between UTAS and the government certified IPPIS platform. After embarking on strike, ASUU has gone back to what I proposed to them,” he stated.

Source: The Informant247 Naija News Today

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