October 29, 2013

FG in Crucial Meeting with ASUU Today

FG in crucial meeting with ASUU today •‘Talks with VCs fruitful 

The Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will meet today in a last ditch effort to resolve the lingering crisis in the University System.

As a prelude to the meeting scheduled for 10.00a.m today, the Federal Government was locked in a meeting with the Vice Chancellors of the federal universities for about two hours on Monday.

Supervising Minister of Education, Mr Nyesom Wike, after the closed door meeting declined comment to newsmen, but told journalists that the government would be meeting with the leadership of ASUU today.

Wike, who chaired the meeting held at the auditorium of the National Universities Commission (NUC), had said the meeting was a normal interaction with the vice chancellors.

Before the commencement of the meeting, Wike excused journalists, personal assistants, his aides and all others, except the vice chancellors, ostensibly to prevent leakage of their deliberations.

However, it was gathered that the meeting was to see how the universities that have been shut for about four months now could be reopened to students as well as fine-tune discussion on the position of the government against the meeting with ASUU today.

Wike had last week assured that the protracted strike would soon be called off based on the outcome of the last parley with ASUU leadership.

A national daily had reported that based on the fresh agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU, the leadership of ASUU was to go back to brief its members at a meeting after the Eid-el-kabir celebration.

It was gathered, on Monday, that the meeting today would afford the ASUU to report to the government about the position of the union on the offers by the Federal Government so far.

The fresh accord struck by the Vice-President Namadi Sambo with the union, government had agreed to increase the N30 billion already released for the payment of academic earned allowance to N40 billion.

According to sources, the government also agreed that the N40 billion should be regarded only as first instalment, and not a once-and-for-all payment.

The memorandum drafted at the of the meeting indicated that the government would top it up with further releases once universities are through with the disbursement of N40 million.

Accordingly, vice chancellors were urged to expedite the disbursement within the shortest possible time using guiding templates that have been sent by the Committee of Vice Chancellors to them.

On the implementation of the Needs Assessment to Nigerian Universities report, it was stated that the government was cognisant and mindful of the ability of universities to effectively and efficiently utilise the N100 billion fund immediately, hence that figure.

“However, in addition to this N100 billion dedicated and already to be made available for 2013, N200 billion (increased from N150 billion previously agreed) will now be earmarked in the 2014 budget, as well as each of the following three-four years until the universities are brought to world-class standard.

Also, on project prioritisation, universities would now be allowed to determine their priorities and not be “rail-roaded” into implementing a pre-determined set of projects with respect to the NEEDS assessment. Decisions are not to be centralised.

The government also assured that the operations of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) would not be impaired, and that the regular TETFund intervention disbursement to universities woul continue, unaffected.

“So, the NEEDS assessment capital outlays are in addition to regular TETFund intervention.”

Although, the President of ASUU, Dr Nasir Isa Fagge, could not confirm the willingness of ASUU to attend today’s meeting, but the Nigerian Tribune gathered that zonal meetings of ASUU in their various universities were held last week to collate opinion of the members of the government offers.

Source: Nigerian Tribune

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