The incessant strike that has disrupted the academic activities throughout the nation continues. Academic Staff Union of Universities vowed recently not to resume until demands are met and now, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of State for Education in Nigeria has fired back. He said, there is ‘absolutely nothing’ that can be rightfully said is stopping Nigerian lecturers from returning to the classrooms ‘tomorrow’.
He affirmed that Federal Government of Nigeria has tried all its best in granting all request in regards to the agreement in principle.
Mr. Chukwuemeke Nwajiuba, who spoke on the evening of Tuesday o3 November 2020 on the Channels TV in a programme titled Politics Today said, it was all lies that the FG is withholding salaries of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for a period of eight months consecutively.
The strike which began early this year on the March 23, 2020 after ASUU declared a a “total and indefinite strike” due to failure of the FG to fulfil the 2019 Memorandum of Action and majorly because of the controversial, unfavourable Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) implementation by the FG.
The ASUU brought forward five major contentious issues in the 2019 MoA listed as; revitalisation fund for universities, proliferation of universities, particularly by state governments, renegotiation of the 2009 agreement, outstanding earned academic allowances, and establishment of visitation panels to universities.
The problem with the use of IPPIS began around October 2019, upon the accusation levied by ASUU against some vice-chancellors who illegally forced the union members to enrol on the IPPIS platform.
However, the ASUU makes provision for an alternative platform to IPPIS brought by FG, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS). The Union then urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to adopt it instead for the universities’ Academic staff salary payment.
Contrarily, on Tuesday night, Nwajiuba, “I have not said there is no way the government will not ever have a different application. But I am saying this is what we have now. The government will continually improve its service. If UTAS, as we go ahead, becomes even a better platform for everybody and they offer it free to government, of course, we are a responsive government, we will simply migrate to it.”
However, he urged the striking universities lecturers to get on the IPPIS platform provided by FG to get their salaries and return to their various classrooms.
He was later asked about the allegation levied by the ASUU on non-payment of salaries and illegal registration on IPPIS platform and he said, “We asked all our Vice-Chancellors across the country to give us the BVN of all of their people who are eligible for salaries which they did. The BVN marries with the IPPIS and they were migrated to the IPPIS and they were all paid. Of course, there may be people who didn’t submit at the time but that is being sorted out in the office of the accountant general.
“But I think it is a lie to say the government has not paid them in eight months. It will be unfair to the government.”
He also added, “The lecturers can be back in the classroom tomorrow if they say they want to go back. There is nothing withholding lecturers from going back to the classroom tomorrow. Absolutely nothing. Everything the government should do has been done. If you want your salaries, get on the platform and collect your salaries.”
However, both the FG and the ASUU are set to reconvene another meeting today, Wednesday 04 November, 2020 to attempt to resolve the long standing disagreement over the salary platform to used in paying the Academic Staff arrears as well as the Earned Allowance (EAA) of the university lecturers valued at N30 billion.