The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Wednesday said the Federal Government has addressed some of the demands made by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Ngige said this while defending the budget of his ministry before the Senate Committee on Labour and Employment.
According to a statement by his media aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, responding to the concerns raised by the committee on the prolonged ASUU strike, the minister noted that five demands of union has been met out of eight.
He said: “Out of the eight demands of ASUU, the government has solved five. We have made N50 billion available. A total sum of N20 billion for the revitalisation of the universities and N30 billion for Earned Academic Allowances (EAA).
“The union agreed and went back to their members, only to return and say that the money for EAA should be for ASUU members alone, excluding other unions, namely, SSANU, NASU, and NAAT.”
Ngige explained that the Federal Government cannot ignore the other unions as such could be counter-productive to the smooth running of the university system.
“We cannot ignore the other unions whose services are indispensable for the full functioning of the university. If we ignore them, even if ASUU calls off the strike, the other unions will down tools-close the lecture rooms, the libraries, the laboratories- and in fact, even the university gate,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of the IPPIS, he said the University Transparency and Accountability Solutions (UTAS) brought by the ASUU as an alternative had been sent to the National Information Technology Development Agency for assessment.
“They said that university autonomy is being eroded. Autonomy cannot work when government is paying the lecturers. It can work only when the governing council generates its own resources to pay workers.
“IPPIS has blocked all leakages and exposed those who are not paying taxes, as well as those who underpay.
“So, we are meeting again with ASUU soon, so that they can also hear that other unions in the university have developed their own payment system against UTAS. Do you now realise why we are tackling this problem holistically?” the Minister asked the lawmakers.