Government, ASUU union agree on forensic audit of N30 billion
The Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have agreed to initiate a forensic audit of the sum of N30 billion given to union in 2010, just as they also agreed on monthly remittances to the university teachers’ body while the inquiry lasts.
Details of the yesterday’s meeting in Abuja were sketchy as at press time, as officials of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and representatives of ASUU were silent on whether the agreement was strong enough to suspend the two-day old industrial action which began on Monday in most universities across the federation.
The Deputy Director, Press in the ministry, Samuel Olowookere quoted the minister, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige as saying, “we wish to assure members of ASUU and indeed all Nigerians that government is already at work to resolve all outstanding issues in line with the resolve of the present administration to cast any form of disruption of universities’ academic calendars into the dust bin of history.”
According to Ngige, there is an ongoing renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and ASUU by the Babalakin Committee.
“The Federal Government set up the Babalakin Committee on 13th Feb. 2017, which is already addressing the issues raised by ASUU.
“Though the Federal Government did not wish to apportion blame, it is important to note that ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action as it did not give the Federal Government the mandatory 15 days’ notice as contained in the Section 41 of Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, 2004.
“In fact, it was on 14th Aug., 2017 that the Office of the Minister received a letter dated 13th Aug. 2017 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it commenced the strike.”
Olowokere noted that the letter was to inform the Federal Government that ASUU had begun a strike, adding that this is not a declaration of intention to go on strike as contained in the Trade Dispute Act, 2004.
He said that since the case was being conciliated, it was against the spirit of Social Dialogue and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for ASUU to embark on strike as enunciated in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention.
“The Federal Government therefore wishes to appeal to ASUU to consider students who are currently writing degree and promotion examinations. Please, call off the strike and return to the negotiation table.’’
The minister added that the Ministry of Labour and Employment would ensure that a time frame is tied to the negotiations.
Ngige assured that ASUU that the “Babalakin Committee was ever ready to continue the negotiations, indeed, has all the necessary ingredients for fruitful social dialogue as well as adequate powers to negotiate and make recommendations to the Federal Government”.
He noted that the ingredients for fruitful social dialogue as well as adequate powers to negotiate and make recommendations to the Federal Government had been put in place.