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Buhari gives more assurances to varsity lecturers

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President Muhammadu Buhari says the federal government remains committed to fulfilling promises made to the University Academic Staff Union (ASUU).

This, he said, was to prevent disruptive strikes, generate uninterrupted academic programs, and improve funding for educational institutions.

The president made the promise when he received members of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, and the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Rev. Samson Ayokunle, in Abuja on Tuesday.

He praised NIREC management for intervening in the year-long strike and consulting with the parties.

According to him, no society that loves itself neglects its educational system and all its components.

Buhari urged NIREC that in their further consultations with ASUU members, it was important that they share with them that the government think highly of them and their service to the nation.

”However, they should be aware of the fiscal pressures we are currently facing. However, we remain committed to keeping our promises.

”For its part, I would like to encourage ASUU to continue working with us to find solutions to the challenges we face.

“My administration is committed to this engagement and dialogue, and I urge you to stay the course toward a joint resolution in the best interest of our children and the nation,” he said.

In response to questions raised by NIREC about finding sustainable solutions to the perennial and disruptive strikes that threatened the sanctity and integrity of the nation’s university system, the president said he had directed his Chief of Staff, the Labor Ministers and Employment and Education, which made solving the problem a priority.

The President said that he had received information from the Minister of Labour, “detailing where we are today, given the various stakeholders, and reported on the meeting as follows:

”To show our commitment, several payments have been made in the last 6 months, addressing several of the issues you raised, details of which the minister of labor and employment can make available to you.

”Funds have also been provided for the development of infrastructure in several public universities and several of them have started to use this facility to improve their level of infrastructure.

”Finally, and perhaps the most controversial of the issues regarding the decision to use the Integrated Payroll and Personal Information System (IPPIS) or the University Responsibility Transparency Solutions (UTAS).

”As you may know, IPPIS was introduced as a means of blocking leaks. Through IPPIS, the federal government was able to save more than 100 billion naira annually in the central civil service alone. In view of ASUU’s resistance, we devised UTAS which is now on the table.

“I was also informed that the Digital Economy and Communications System Assessment Report has been shared with all stakeholders, including ASUU, and they are required to make appropriate modifications and report back on their recommendations.”

On behalf of the Council, the president of the CAN said that the meeting with the president was the sole point of avoiding the strikes in the universities and the challenges of the ASUU, which they considered to be of national interest.

Ayokunle told the president that from NIREC’s meeting with ASUU on January 10, 2022, university professors highlighted that the bone of contention between the union and the federal government centered on eight issues.

According to him, these issues include the inconclusive renegotiation of the ASUU-FGN agreement of 2009, UTAS, IPPIS and the distortion in wage payment challenges.

Other contentious issues include visiting panels at federal universities, reporting issues, funding for public university revitalization, earned academic allocation, state universities, and promotion arrears.

While acknowledging that some of the issues had been addressed, the NIREC leadership appealed to the president to order an immediate return to the table to conclude the renegotiation of the 2009 agreement.

”If the renegotiation process continues to its conclusion, the issues with which the government does not feel comfortable can be renegotiated with a view to reaching only implementable agreements.

“We believe that with the renegotiation underway, other issues will be adequately addressed along the line,” the NIREC co-chair said.

 

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Buhari gives more assurances to varsity lecturers

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