The chairman of the Needs Committee of the Federal Government negotiating team with the Academic Staff Union of Universities and Governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswam yesterday said with the progress so far made in negotiation, the strike embarked upon by the university teachers should be called off in no distant future.
Speaking with State House Corespondents after meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the presidential Villa, governor Suswam said from its initial position that there was no money to meet the demand of academic staff, government has offered N30billion and has indicated its willingness to meet other demands by ASUU.
“I can say that we have made substantial progress and we are hoping that this strike should be called off based on some of the mechanisms that we have put in place to move the sector forward. We met extensively yesterday (monday).
“You know there are two components to the whole issue;the needs assessment component, which is the one that I’m handling, we have to some large extent concluded on that; the earned allowance committee, which is being headed by the SGF, that is where there are some contentions. But as you must have heard, the federal government made an offer of N30 billion to assist the various Councils of our universities to be able to pay the earned allowances.
There is also N100 billion that is why myself, the Minister of Finance, the SGF,the ministers of education, labour, the Chief of Staff to the President and the VIce President have just risen from a meeting to take some decisions that would end the strike and the President has instructed us on what to do and he has shown a lot of commitments and flagging off a project worth about N 1 00 billion in all the universities in the country. So we are hoping that we will be able to see the end of the strike very soon if at the end of the day ASUU is satisfied with the measures that have so far been taken” he said.
Governor Suswam further revealed that the federal government will also be meeting with the university councils and vice chancellors of universities within the week with a view to updating them on some of the decisions taken so far.
“The president has graciously agreed that in the first week of September he will be able to flag-off the projects. You also know that the procurement process will have to be followed and these projects include hostels in our universities, classrooms and theaters, libraries and laboratories amongst others, some are renovation some are new and all the 61 universities are going to benefit from one project or another, so it is not going to be selective, all the universities are going to benefit from this infrastructural revitalization of our universities.
“the federal government has opted to also meet with the Councils and managements of the universities because earned allowance is something that can be certified by the management and councils of the universities. The federal government said it is assisting the universty councils with the sum of N30 billion for them to go and verify the people who actually earn these allowances and pay them.
“I think that the government had demonstrated some substantial faith . Yes, if ASUU said that this is the amount of money that the FG is owing them and the FG has shifted ground from its initial posture of there was no money to offering N30 billion, it means we are moving forward and with a N100 billion available now for addressing the physical infrastructure deficit in our universities, I think the federal government has done quiet well to have moved to where we are today” he said.
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