The Minister of Education Adamu Adamu has revealed that the insistence by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) that they be paid six months’ salaries covering the strike period is what is stalling the negotiations between the federal government and the lecturers.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari rejected it outrightly when he presented the report to him.
Adamu made the revelation to State House Correspondents during his appearance at the weekly press briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team, at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja on Thursday.
He explained that “all contentious issues between the government and ASUU had been settled except the quest for members’ salaries for the period of the strike be paid, a demand that Buhari has flatly rejected.”
The minister said that the President’s position had been communicated to the lecturers who are being awaited to call off the strike.
He stated that the rejection was to curb the excesses of trade unions that want to be paid for work not done.
Adamu further disclosed that the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) payment system proposed by ASUU has outscored the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) already in use by the government and which the lecturers are kicking against.
He also said IPPIS has been updated to now accommodate the payment of those on sabbatical.
“Just one thing that I was reminded of, even the current IPPIS has been made to accommodate sabbatical. I didn’t know this. Somebody just told me.”
Recall the lecturers had accused the government of not considering the peculiarities of tertiary institutions in the IPPIS.
Adamu also debunked the report that UTAS had not been approved by the government as the payment platform for university lecturers.
He said that the government has proposed a new salary for the unions which he said the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Allied Institutions (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists, (NAAT), have accepted in principle and are now consulting with their members with a view to call off the strike in the next one month.
He, however, commended the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) for calling off its own strike.
The Minister also said that it is the responsibility of ASUU to compensate students for the time wasted during the six-month strike, not the federal government.
Adamu suggested that the affected students should “take ASUU to court” to claim damages incurred over the strike period.
According to him, the federal government bears no liability to compensate millions of students grounded for six months over lost time, saying that if the students are determined to get compensated, they should take ASUU to court.
Speaking more on the recurring strike that has crippled the university system, the minister said it is important for the public to be aware that “the federal government is paying the salaries of every staff in its tertiary institutions, academic and non-academic staff, while these institutions are also in full control of their internally generated revenue (IGR).
“We are doing everything humanly possible to conclude the negotiations. It is our hope that the outcome of the renegotiations will bring lasting industrial peace to our campuses. In the main time, I am sure that the current efforts would yield the desired results and return our children back to school.”
Adamu also called for a crackdown on perpetrators of examination malpractice, which he said has been covered to be a cartel.
He called on the examiners to work closely with law enforcement agencies to “crackdown on examination malpractice”.
According to him, despite efforts to raise the integrity of the examination system in schools nationwide, the Ministry still grapples with malpractice perpetrated both at the exams councils and school levels.
He lauded the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board for its efforts at stemming malpractice, saying more works need to be done.
The minister also said that the Buhari administration has expended a total of N6,003,947,848,237 in capital and recurrent expenditure in the education sector in the last seven years.
He said this was in addition to interventions from TETFund and UBEC amounting to N2.5 trillion and N553,134,967,498 respectively in capital investment.
“We must also note and appreciate the huge investments from states and the private sector at all levels of our educational system. We will continue to improve on the implementation of the Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP) all through to 2023 for the overall development of the education sector and the Nigerian nation.
“We will continue to create the necessary enabling environment to attract more and more private sector investment. We shall hand over a better education sector than we met it.”
Adamu said that the number of out-of-school children has dropped from an estimated 13 million to 6.9 million, with an impressive enrollment from online states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Gombe, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Rivers and Ebonyi.
He linked the increased enrollment to activities of the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA).
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