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FG, ASUU industrial face-off: We have understood ourselves – FG

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MINISTER for Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has said that the seemingly intractable industrial face-off between the federal government and ASUU has thawed as understanding has been reached giving hint that the students would soon go back to the classroom.

  Dr. Ngige, who spoke with the media at the burial ceremony of Chief Charles Amilo, his former Commissioner for information when he was governor of Anambra State, expressed concern over the stay at home by the universities students and explained that the federal government has sat twice with ASUU and have reached some agreements, having found out that there was misinformation and that was why they went on strike.

  The Minister of Labour said: “You cannot tell me that people who were paid N92 billion in 2021 alone had denied that but as discussion progressed at the table, we all saw the agreement and they understood. We are not owing them N1.3 trillion signed by President Goodluck Jonathan because he didn’t even pay the N200 millions he promised them he would pay.

  Ngige, who disclosed the sincerity of the federal government to dispel the ugly impression that it is not losing sleep over the ASUU strike explained: “This government came and said we are unable to pay this N1.3 billion but however it is a good idea so let us now show you commitment to work towards N1.3 billions. We would give you N200 billions within the period of four years. So that is what we are paying as “Revitalization Fund”.

  “The one called “Earned Allowances” you earn them while in the work that is “excessive duty”; like if you are supposed to teach 30 students in a class, and I am teaching 60, I would be paid for the extra 30 persons as “Earned Allowance”. For instance, If I go on field trip with my students, I would be paid “Field Allowance”. If I am a head of department I would be paid “responsibility allowance”. So it is these allowances that have accrued while you are at work, so that is the issue. So we have worked out one of 2021 and paid. The one of 2022 we have now asked the committee to go back and use the same formula we used for the 2021 and give us a figure within six weeks so that government will arrange how to pay.

  On the pressure by ASUU to deploy the university developed payment platform instead of the inconvenience on that of the federal government’s platform, the minister explained thus: “So, we have now understood ourselves. On the payment platform ASUU wants the federal government to use pay, first and foremost an employee does not tell his employer how to pay him; you start from there. But however, the federal government said that since you have developed a home-grown solution, we would consider it to encourage you in your research and university activities. We had to establish a technical team comprising university team, an Information agency with a neutral group for a hitch-free platform solution on payment to the universities. The lapses on the ASUU platform were detected during a test and we said that we cannot apply it because hackers can come in and take away the money we put for the university”.

  On the exceptional quality of life of late Chief Charles Amilo, Ngige recalled: “Charles Amilo was a very amiable man and a political historian of note who featured prominently as a student political activist during the first republic for Right Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria and Dr. MI Okpala, premier of Eastern Nigeria. Amilo was as a hard working man when he was my Hon. Commissioner for Information and he displayed amazing transparency and accountability when he supervised the establishment of radio and television stations and transmitter stations under the Anambra Broadcasting Service scheme, Onitsha, Awka and Enugwu-ukwu.

  “He is a man of ideas and strove to actualise it. He is not afraid to stand on the part of the truth and of course he is not a push-over in broadcasting vocalising; a wonderful man indeed and the wonderful works he did in government speak for him”, the minister said.

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