Wednesday, November 23, 2016 11:32 pm
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Wednesday acknowledged that the Federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) made progress during their talks.
He gave the assurance while addressing state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the state House.
Ngige said that ASUU had eight demands of which seven had been trashed out, adding that the government conceded to them the right to exclude endowment funds accruing to universities from the Treasury Single Account.
The minister said the TSA was not for punishment but to enable every government institution to, at a first glance, know its financial disposition and for accountability.
“The government agreed to ASUU demand but limited it to only endowment fund, and that is fund sourced by ASUU.
“But that does not also mean that at the end of the day the university council will not have rights to audit such an account.
“That is really the area that is a little bit contentious.
“The other aspect of it is the earned allowances; the earned allowance is the only one that is not sorted out now because everyone knows and agrees that we are in a recession.
‘`And if we are in a recession and you are asking us to pay you N284 billion, nobody will pay it because the money is not there.
“So they agreed and National Assembly also agreed and something was worked out.
“And government offered them some amount pending when we finish the auditing of the first tranche of money that has been given to them in the same area of earned allowances.
“That tranche of money they collected is being audited but the auditing process is very slow because some people for strange reasons are not allowing auditing to take place.
“A time frame of six months has been fixed within which the auditing will be done.’’
According to Ngige, within the six months government has offered what it will pay monthly while ASUU has made a counter proposal.
He said that both parties had gone back to their principals to look at the proposals and return.
He said the Executive and the National Assembly would look at the finances of government and propose an appropriation for subsequent years.
“For 2016, there is nothing in the budget for it; it will be done and appropriated and paid when due.
“I don’t think the matter is a helpless case, we are moving forward and next week they will come back with their counter proposal,’’ he said.
According to the minister, his education counterpart gave an update on the ASUU demand to FEC.(NAN)