The Federal Government yesterday said it could not afford the N284 billion earned allowances being demanded by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Earned allowances are the emoluments the lecturers are entitled to enhance academic productivity and increase research output.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige told reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja that of the eight demands made by ASUU, the earned allowances could not be trashed out “because everybody knows and agrees that we are in recession. If we are in a recession, and you are asking us to pay you N284 billion, nobody will pay it because the money is not there.
“So, they agreed and the National Assembly also agreed. But the government offered them some amounts pending when we finish auditing of the first tranche of money that has been given to them in that same area of earned allowances.”
Ngige, who was joined by his Budget and National Planning as well as Information and Culture counterparts, Udoma Udo Udoma and Lai Mohammed, said government conceded to the union the right to exclude endowment funds that accrued to universities from the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
He added: “TSA makes for accountability. You pay in whatever you derive from government funds, ask for it back and you get it. The only thing is that you must do the paper work for the accountability aspect of it to be there and for any institution, they should be able to look at first glance, see the monies they have in account A, B or C at the CBN and know what they have.
“Government agrees to ASUU’s demand but limited it to only endowment funds. But that doesn’t also mean that at the end of the day, the university councils will not have the right to audit such an account. That is really the only area that is still contentious.”
Ngige also disclosed that council approved purchase of 67 vehicles worth N464 million to strengthen the capacity of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
He specifically said 40 pick-up vehicles and 27 Peugeot 301 cars were approved to boost the commission’s fleet.
According to him, all vehicles are to be sourced locally from Innoson Motors and Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) in line with the country’s Local Content and Procurement Act.