Tuesday, October 22, 2013

FG, ASUU didn’t know agreement’s cost implication – Maku

The Federal Government did not calculate the cost implication of the
agreement it signed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities in
2009, Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, has said.
Maku, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, also
alleged that ASUU too was unaware of the cost implication before the
representatives of both parties signed the agreement.
He also disclosed that the government had offered additional N10bn for
the payment of the allowances of the striking teachers which they
turned down.
Maku added that the Federal Government spent more than half of its
monthly income on salaries of public servants.
The minister said, "One of the things that have tormented all of us is
the ASUU strike that has lasted for over three months. The strike
arose out of a disagreement on the payment of allowances to our
university teachers.
"There was an agreement in 2009 or so and sitting allowance was listed
under the agreement. As at the time they were listed, neither the
government nor ASUU was aware of the exact figures it was going to
take to pay those allowances because the allowances were not
"In the course of this period, the allowances were calculated and the
gross began to emerge. ASUU made a demand for the payment and
government did not say no. The agreement was supposed to be
implemented by the various university governing councils. They were
also supposed to come largely from Internally Generated Revenue."
Maku said in spite of these, when ASUU threatened to go on strike,
government entered into negotiation with the lecturers in order to
avert the action.
He said, "We also received a report on infrastructure requirement in
the universities. President Goodluck Jonathan promised to deal with
both problems as our finances would permit. We agreed there was the
need to intervene seriously in the universities.
"What happened under this period is that government then went into
negotiation with ASUU, put N30bn on the ground to enable the
university councils to pay the allowances to the teachers and promised
to pay the rest as time goes on. ASUU said no. They needed about N90bn
at the same time.
"We negotiated with them until negotiation broke down. In spite of the
breakdown of negotiation, the Federal Government convened a meeting
chaired by the Vice President of the country in our continued
determination to end the strike. Government again promised another
N10bn for the payment of the allowances. That brings it to N40bn for
the payment of the allowances."
Maku urged parents and Nigerians to appeal to the striking teachers to
call off the strike. He also called on the lecturers to put away
politics from the struggle and consider the impact of the long
industrial action on the development of their students.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Prof.
AbdulGaniyu Ambali, has called on the Federal Government and the
lecturers to resolve their differences amicably.
Speaking during the 29th convocation of the university in Ilorin on
Tuesday, he said both parties should consider the interest of the
students and use dialogue to resolve the contentious areas.
Also, President, Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, Mr. Shehu Sani, on
Tuesday, condemned critics of the current strike by university
teachers, describing them as 'lackeys in government'.
Sani, in statement in Abuja, noted that the ASUU strike was "a
patriotic act of resistance against bad and visionless leadership in
the country."
He said the strike was also "a genuine struggle to save the education
sector from total collapse."

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