There were indications on Thursday that the planned strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will no longer hold following the intervention of Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.
At a meeting held at the Speaker’s office, it was resolved that the N30 billion revitalisation fund be released to the universities within the next one week while the N22.1 billion Earned Academic Allowances are to be paid also within the next one week.
The meeting was attended by members of the National leadership of ASUU comprising mainly past Presidents of the union led by its President, Prof. Victor Emmanuel; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State for Education Emeka Nwajuba; Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Comrade Aminu Suleiman and his Basic Education counterpart, Prof. Julius Ihonvbare.
The Speaker summoned the meeting to find ways of addressing the grievances of the lecturers following a motion of urgent Public importance moved by Prof. Ihonvbare
The meeting also agreed to compel the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to fast track the process of testing and approving the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) being developed by the union for the payment of salaries of university lecturers.
They also agreed to set up a tripathite committee made up of members of the union, the government and the National Assembly to work out modalities for the resumption of renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the union and the government.
Renegotiation has stalled following the resignation of the chairman of the renegotiation committee with the union apprehensive about resumption of the exercise.
Speaking at the commencement of the meeting, Gbajabiamila said the House decided to summon the meeting because the consequences of the lecturers going on strike was grave.
He said: “We know the consequences of ASUU going on strike. The unintended consequences which we don’t know will be far reaching.
“Whether on the side of ASUU, the government and the House, we all mean well for our children. I do not believe we can afford another strike.
“I have a fair idea of what the issues are. But whatever it is, it cannot be a recurring decimal. Strike should not be incessant. It should be a last resort when negotiations breaks down”.
Turning to the Ministers at the meeting, the Speaker said “government cannot be signing agreement that are not worthy of the paper they are written on.
“In the long run, we might need to set up a tripathite committee that will review all these issues and address them once and for all.”
He directed the House Committees on Education and ICT to link up with ASUU and get NITDA to give its final approval for the deployment of UTAS for payment of their salaries and work out ways to deploy the system which the union said will be domicile at the National Universities Commission (NUC).
Ahmed assured that all payment to the union will be sorted out within the next one week but was quick to add that the N22.1 billion Earned Allowance was part of the supplementary budget passed by the National Assembly which also included money for the health sector.