FG Offers Professors 35% Pay Rise, Other Varsity Workers 23.5% After Meeting VCs, Pro-Chancellors

  • To release N200bn next year for revitalisation, earned allowances
  • Raises new c’ttee to discuss no-work-no-pay policy
  • Keep your salary increment, implement our agreements – ASUU
  • Buhari warns govt officials against signing unimplementable pacts again

The federal government yesterday said it could only afford a 23.5 per cent salary increase for all categories of the workforce in federal universities, except for the professorial cadre, which will enjoy a 35 per cent upward review. 

This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari warned the government team involved in the negotiation with the striking Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) against signing any agreement, which the government will not be able to implement.

The president also directed the government team to persuade the university lecturers to return to work.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, spoke in Abuja yesterday during a meeting with pro-chancellors and vice chancellors of federal universities on decisions reached by the government to end the ongoing ASUU strike.

Adamu said after a series of meetings with Buhari and the ministers of finance, budget and national planning; labour and productivity; communications and digital economy; and education as well as the director-general of the Budget Office and the chairman of the Salaries and Wages Commission, the Draft Agreement by Nimi Briggs Re-negotiation Team was critically reviewed and the proposed salary increment considered unrealistic and out of tune with the current realities of the national economy. 

He also assured that henceforth, allowances pertaining to ad-hoc duties of academic and non-academic staff shall be paid as and when due by the governing councils of universities to which such services are rendered and to the staff who perform them. 

Academic activities have been suspended by ASUU for over 200 days over the alleged failure of the federal government to meet all its demands, which include the conclusion of the process of renegotiating the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement, deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), payment of outstanding arrears of Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), release of the agreed sum of money for the revitalisation of public universities (federal and states), address proliferation and governance issues in the state universities, settle promotion arrears, release withheld salaries of academics, and pay outstanding third-party deductions.

We’ll release N200 bn next year for revitalisation, earned allowances

Adamu also said yesterday that a sum of N150 billion shall be provided for in the 2023 budget as funds for the revitalisation of federal universities, to be disbursed to the institutions in the first quarter of the year, while the sum of N50 billion shall also be provided for in the 2023 budget for the payment of outstanding areas of earned academic allowances, to be paid in the first quarter of the year.

While noting that the prevailing economic situation is limiting the ability of the government to accede to all their demands, Adamu said the appeal to the unions to consider and accept the government’s offer and call off the ongoing industrial actions in the interest of the nation’s educational system consequently saw the suspension of the strike by Joint Action Committee of NASU/SSANU and NAAT. 

He said the government and the ASUU had no option but to continue talking “Until our universities have reopened their doors to students who, clearly, are the principal victims of the seemingly unending strikes. In the circumstances, therefore, all councils and senates of our universities are enjoined to rise up to their responsibilities. 

“We must, together, continue to work to restore our public universities to where they were in the 60s and 70s. As the most important officers in our university system, pro-chancellors and vice-chancellors, must demonstrate more commitment to ending the ongoing strike,” he added. 

He said the government negotiation team, in all its activities, had been guided by Buhari’s directives, namely, “That while the unions should be persuaded to return to work, the government should not repeat the past mistakes of accepting to sign an agreement it will be unable to implement. Government should not, in the guise of resolving current challenges, sow seeds for future disruptions.”

 Adamu said to him, “The past two weeks have been a very dark period of personal anguish and internal turmoil. I used to deceive myself that in a climate of frankness, and with mutual goodwill, it will fall to my lot to bring an end to the incessant strikes in the education sector. This has not proved possible- or, at least, not as easy, quick and straightforward, as I used to think.” 

Another c’ttee constituted 

Meanwhile, after a closed-door meeting of over two hours with the pro-chancellors and vice-chancellors, the minister, through the Director of Public Affairs, Bem Ben Goong, said a committee made up of four pro-chancellors and four vice-chancellors and others, to be chaired by the minister, had been constituted. 

Members of the committee include Nimi Briggs, Olu Obafemi, Udo Udoma and Bashir Dalhatu and the vice-chancellors of the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the University of Benin and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with the NUC executive secretary and four others.  The minister said the committee would look into the additional demands the ASUU was making, particularly the areas where there had not been consensus. 

He said the committee met yesterday and would proceed to meet President Buhari on the outcome. 

He noted that the committee would be looking at two major areas of contention: the no-work-no-pay policy and the remuneration of university lecturers. 

While he could not give the time frame for the committee to work, he said “Given the atmosphere in the meeting, they are looking at days.” 

He, however, said they were not jettisoning the Briggs committee, but that it was in continuation of what the committee did. 

On whether there would be a review of the no-work-no-pay policy, he said: “There has been an appeal generally for the system to take a second look at that and that is what the committee will look into.” 

Keep your percentage increment – ASUU

Reacting to the announcement on salary percentage increment, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, in an interview with Daily Trust, asked the government to sign and implement the agreements already reached.

He alleged that yesterday’s offers by the federal government were not in good faith, saying it was basically to blackmail members of the union.

“We’re not talking about percentage, we‘re talking about the agreement, not percentage. How much did they present to us that they would give the academics during negotiations? Like we’ve insisted, we don’t accept gifts, we accept negotiated money.

“When you give us something, you can take it back the next day. But when we negotiate and sign the agreements, it’s binding on both parties. We’re talking about negotiated amounts, not percentage given,” he stated.

Asked to disclose the negotiated amount, Osodeke said, “Don’t worry, you’ll see that they’ve not finished. When they finish, the world will know. In collective bargaining, you don’t let out whatever you’re negotiating until you finish.

“That’s why we’re where we‘re today. They run to the press in order to try to blackmail the union; that is the problem. If they sit down and follow the rules of collective bargaining, we’ll not be where we’re today.” He clarified that both the union and the government had since concluded collective bargaining, saying it remained only signing.

“We concluded. They were supposed to go back and come back to sign. We will disclose when everything is over and sign.”

Varsities’ closure fueling prostitution, insecurity 

The alumni associations across federal universities yesterday asked President Buhari to personally involve himself in resolving the face-off between the government and the ASUU. 

The associations, under the aegis of Concerned Alumni of Nigerian Universities (CANU), said the continued closure of Nigerian universities has increased the spate of terrorism, banditry, kidnappings, money rituals, prostitution and other social vices. 

They said this in a statement jointly signed by the President of the University of Lagos Alumni Association who is also the Chairman of Channels Television Media Group, John Momoh and the National Chairman of the Conference of Alumni Associations of Nigerian Universities for ABU Alumni Association, Prof. Ahmed Tijani Mora.

 Other signatories were President, University of Ibadan Alumni, Prof. Elsie Adewoye; President, University of Calabar Alumni Association, Prof. Yakubu Aboki Ochefu; President, University of Jos Alumni Association, Nuhu Sani and President, University of Port Harcourt Alumni Association, Ule Williams Glad.

They said no country aspiring to get to the Promised Land and be a member of the comity of enlightened nations would toy with education.

The statement read, “In this connection, the associations call on the federal government to urgently put in place a mechanism to holistically address the concerns and demands of the striking lecturers and other university staff.

 “A situation where millions of students are locked out of campuses portends grave danger for the country. The associations call on the Presidency to wade into the matter as a matter of utmost concern so that all contending issues are speedily and expeditiously resolved.”

The associations also pleaded with the leadership of ASUU to sheath its sword and call off its strike as it had made its point. 

CVC appeals to FG to pay lecturers, release N220bn 

Following yesterday’s meeting, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC) of Nigerian Federal Universities summoned an emergency meeting to review the position of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) vis-à-vis that of the federal government. 

The CVC appeals to the federal government to reconsider its stand on ‘No Work No Pay’ and pay the withheld salaries on compassionate grounds and especially in the interest of Nigerian students. 

The vice-chancellors said the government’s acceptance of this appeal would no doubt facilitate a quick resolution of the impasse. 

A statement signed by the Chairman, CVC, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Professor Sulayman A. Abdulkareem said they also support the call for salary adjustment, especially in the present dispensation where the templates used by the National Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission and the IPPIS have depleted the salaries of academics and vice-chancellors, to an all-time low.

“Chief lecturers in polytechnics and colleges of education now earn more than professors in universities. The proposal by the Nimi Briggs committee should be revisited as their figures represent a better offer that will stem the tide of unrest in the universities,” the statement reads. 

CVC said financial autonomy should be extended to governing councils to allow them to determine the salaries of the staff in their various universities subject to a national minimum as agreed by all stakeholders.

They also called for the immediate release of N170 billion to complete one tranche of the Needs Assessment Revitalisation Fund in line with the 2020 MoA to put close to the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, saying, the federal government has agreed to this and would include it in the 2023 budget and urged ASUU to exercise patience while the FG includes the demand in the 2023 budget as promised. 

The vice-chancellors, similarly, called for the immediate release of N50 billion to complete the payment of arrears of Earned Allowances in line with the 2020 MoA to put close to the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement, which FG has agreed to also include in the 2023 budget. 

“The federal government should consider this demand, source for funds and pay this N50 billion now as a sign of goodwill and keeping faith with the 2020 MoA and ASUU should reconsider its position and reciprocate this gesture to suspend the strike,” the statement reads. 

The CVC also appealed to FG to expedite action on the release of the White Paper on the 2021 Visitation Panels report to the federal government. 

While sympathising with students, parents and other stakeholders over the prolonged strike, which is the second longest in our history, they urged all parties to adopt a give-and-take option in the negotiations and employ decorum and decency in the language of communication.

“All hands must be on deck as we seek to make the required sacrifices for the sake of university education in Nigeria.”

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