In a bid to end the four-month old strike by university lecturers, the Federal Government has agreed a N200 billion increase in university funding in the 2014 budget and for the next four years until the universities are brought to world standard, a university official has said.
An internal memo released by the Vice-Chancellor of Federal University Otuoke, Mobolaji Aluko, shows that the government took the decision following two meetings (on Thursday 19th Sept 2013 and Friday 11th Oct 2013) with representatives of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities, ASUU, and Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, AVCNU.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo, and Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike led the government team, according to the memo obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday night.
The government also announced that the N30 billion already released to pay lecturers the contentious "Earned Allowances" has been increased to N40 billion.
The government also agreed to allowed universities to "determine their priorities and not be 'rail-roaded' into implementing a pre-determined set of projects with respect to the NEEDS assessment."
Other decisions reached at the meetings, the memo said, are that the operation of TETFUND will not be impaired, as government has guaranteed a regular and unhindered disbursement of the TETFUND to universities; and the formation of a new Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) for the NEEDS assessment interventions.
The IMC will take over from the Gabriel Suswan Committee and be located within the Ministry of Education and headed by the minister of education.
The IMC is, among other functions, expected to "build confidence and ensure faithful implementation and prevent any relapse as before, the Vice President will meet quarterly with the IMC to monitor progress."
The government team, according to Mr. Aluko, also apologised for the take-it-or-leave-it comment credited to the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Parties at the negotiation appealed to the ASUU team to appeal to its members to consider the latest offering by the government and call off the strike and return to work preferably soon after the Sallah holiday.
Read Prof. Aluko full update below.
FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OTUOKE
INTERNAL INFORMATION RELEASE
OCTOBER 14, 2013
AN UPDATE ON ONGOING ASUU NEGOTIATIONS FOLLOWING TWO RECENT MEETINGS WITH VICE-PRESIDENT NAMADI SAMBO
From the Office of the Vice-Chancellor
Following two meetings (on Thursday 19th Sept 2013 and Friday 11th Oct 2013) of representatives of the AVCNU (Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, led by CVC Chairman, Prof. Hamisu of ATBU) and ASUU Representatives (led by its President, Dr. N. Fagge) with the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Arc. N. Sambo, Minister of Education Barr. N. Wike and others, all Vice-Chancellors have been urged to inform and enlighten our academic and other staff on the following developments so that we can ensure a return to normalcy in our universities within the shortest possible time
1. Earned Allowances: The N30 billion already released will now be increased to N40 billion, and should be regarded only as first installment, and not a once-and-for-all payment. Government will top it up with further releases once universities are through with the disbursement of this new figure of N40 million, so Vice-Chancellors are urged to expedite this disbursement within the shortest possible time using guiding templates that have been sent by the CVC.
2. NEEDS Assessment Capital Money: Government was cognizant and mindful of the ability of Universities to effectively/efficiently utilize the N100 billion fund immediately, hence that figure. However, in addition to this N100 billion dedicated and already 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.
3. Project Prioritization: Universities will 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 centralized.
4. TETFund Intervention: Government assured that the operations of the TETFund will not be impaired, and that the regular TETFund intervention disbursement to Universities will continue, unaffected. So the NEEDS assessment capital outlays are in addition to regular TETFund intervention.
5. Project Monitoring: A new Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) for the NEEDS Assessment intervention for universities has been set up to take over from the Suswan Committee. The new one is under the Federal Ministry of Education and chaired by the Honorable Minister of Education. In addition, to build confidence and ensure faithful implementation and prevent any relapse as before, the Vice President will meet quarterly with the IMC to monitor progress.
6. Blueprint: ASUU was mandated to submit a blue print for revitalizing the Universities to the Vice President.
7. Official Agreement Document: A signed document would be issued very soon to itemize the full issues on which this present consensus outlined here, brokered by AVCNU, has been reached.
8. An Appeal to Call Off Strike: The Vice-President Sambo appealed to ASUU to call off the strike and apologized for the "take-it-or-leave-it" comments credited to the Hon Minister of Finance. All other parties present at the meetings also prevailed on the ASUU leadership to consult objectively with its members to get them to agree with what is now on the table and to call off the strike as soon as possible after the Sallah break of Tuesday/Wednesday October 15/16 2013.
9. ASUU President Responds: At both meetings, the President of ASUU thanked the VP for taking over negotiations and promised to consult with his ASUU Constituency.
We keep our fingers firmly crossed, as we await both the official consensus agreement document and full ASUU reaction. Statesmanship on all sides is called for at this point in time.
Prof. Mobolaji E. Aluko
Federal University Otuoke