Nigeria: Govt Approves N25 Billion Allowances for ASUU

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The federal government said it has approved an additional N25 billion as Earned Academic Allowances for members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The government said the cash was aside the N20 billion that was released in 2018 to public universities.

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said this at his valedictory press conference in Abuja, on Tuesday.

Mr Adamu said all public universities in the country benefitted from the N20 billion released last year.

"Let me inform you that the federal government has just approved an additional N25 billion to be shared to beneficiary institutions directly. Last year, the federal government released N20 billion directly to universities. As I speak, all universities have got their share of the N20 billion," he said.

He said the current administration inherited an 'unimplementable agreement' of N1.3 trillion when it assumed office in 2015.

"The sad news is that the N200 billion that was released to the Central Bank of Nigeria since 2013 for the universities has not been fully accessed. In specific terms, all the 73 public varsities have accessed the 1st tranche of 50 per cent of the N200 billion.

"For the second tranche of 40 per cent, only 56 institutions have been able to access their funds. The last 10 per cent, representing the third tranche of the N200 billion has not been accessed at all."

ASUU embarked on strike last November over poor funding of public varsities.

One of the reasons for ending the three month old strike in February was an agreement between the government and the union.

"In addition to the N20 billion for 2018, the sum of N25 billion only would be released in April/May 2019, after which government would resume full implementation of the MoU of 2013," ASUU President Abiodun Ogunyemi said in February.

Efforts to get a reaction from Mr Ogunyemi was unsuccessful as his numbers were not available as at the time of filing this report.

N1.3 trillion invested in education sector- Minister

Mr Adamu also said the government injected N1.3 trillion into the education sector in the last four years.

"The UBEC interventions in states have recorded a total of N350 billion while TETFund and NEEDS Assessment interventions have recorded N857 billion with the main ministry and other agencies recording N86 billion totaling N1.3 trillion in the last four years.

"This is aside from the N25 billion just approved for public niversities. These figures have nothing to do with personnel and overhead costs in the education sector, which are also well over a trillion naira," he said.

Out-of-school-children

Mr Adamu apologised to Nigerians over his inability to fulfill his promise to reduce the number of out-of-school children by half before the end of his tenure.

The minister said the status of Nigeria with the highest number of out-of-school children globally "was a big mark of shame to him as a person and to the entire nation."

PREMIUM TIMES reported how a 2015 Demographic Health Survey(DHS) conducted by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government showed that out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.

According to the minister, the concerns of this administration have been two-fold: "to find an empirical means of getting the actual figures and best ways to reducing the number to the barest minimum."

He said Nigeria has one of the highest number of out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa "and perhaps in the world and ranked only second to Pakistan."

"When I came on board, I promised to bring the number of out-of-school children to half. I must apologise for this but I believe the new minister will bring this number down," he said.

Secondary Education Commission

Also speaking, the Minister of State for Education, Anthony Anwukah, said the establishment of a secondary education commission to oversee operations of secondary schools in the country has been approved by the government.

Mr Anwuka said the approval was earlier given by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, the goverment has also reviewed downward the charges in Unity Colleges from N83,000 to N49,500.

He said the goverment had pegged PTA (parents, teachers association) levy at N5,000 across schools and ended arbitrary charges of N75,000 "which had nearly inhibited access to unity colleges."

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