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We can’t afford N110bn ASUU demand for varsities – FG

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  • Again ASUU-FG meeting ends in deadlock

Contrary to the impression given by the government that an end to the prolonged strike by university lecturers was at sight, a meeting held to resolve all lingering issues on Wednesday ended in a deadlock.

Specifically, the meeting attended by representatives of the Federal Government and those of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, was over the poor funding of Universities and the controversy surrounding the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System payment platform.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, told journalists after the meeting that the government could not meet the N110bn demand of ASUU for university revitalisation because of the damaging effects of COVID-19 on the economy.

 

According to him, the Federal Government has offered the union N20bn for revitalisation and N30bn for Earned Academic Allowances, making a total of N50bn as a show of its commitment towards ending the strike.

He said, “There are three issues. revitalization fund where government offered ASUU N20bn as a sign of good faith based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation they had with government in 2009. This present government is still committed to it. That is why we are giving them offers of some fund.”

He also said, “This government is not against revitalization but this government says that because of dire economic situation and  COVID-19, we cannot really pay the N110bn which they are demanding for revitalization.

“We offered N20bn as revitalization fund. On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the government offered N30bn to all the unions in the universities, making it N50bn all together.

“ASUU is saying that the N30bn should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this N30bn.

“Again, another cardinal issue is the University Transperancy and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus IPPIS. Today ASUU submitted their document on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you know last week, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test. This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today they have submitted the document for onward transmission to NITDA.”

Ngige explained that the transition period and how to disburse the Earned Academic Allowances and other entitlements remained unresolved as ASUU wanted an exemption from the IPPIS whereas the government team led by the Accountant General of the Federation insisted on the IPPIS, being the only government approved payment platform.

He said, “So that is where we are for now. So we are all going back to our principals and they will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what federal government has to offer.”

The two teams agreed to reconvene on Friday November 6.

 

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Buhari to present 2023 budget proposal to NASS Friday

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President Muhammadu Buhari will present the 2023 Appropriations bill to a joint session of the National Assembly on Friday.

The appropriations bill will contain budget proposals for the 2023 fiscal year.

He made this known in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, which was read out at the start of plenary on Tuesday.

The formal budget presentation is scheduled for 10am

and it will be the last main budget Buhari will be presenting as he will leave office on 29 May 2023 when his second four year term will end.

The Federal Government is already proposing an aggregate expenditure of N19.76 trillion for the 2023 fiscal year with a budget deficit of about N12.41 trillion.

Some key assumptions in the proposal include an estimated oil benchmark of $70, crude oil production put at 1.69mbpd, exchange rate of N435.57/$ and inflation rate at 17.16 per cent.

The Federal Government pegged growth rate at 3.75 per cent because it believes that “Growth is expected to be moderated to 3.30% in 2024 before picking up to 3.46% in 2025.”

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the federal government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell national assets to finance the budget deficit in 2023.

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ASUU also corrupt, undermining govt investment – Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said a number of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are involved in corrupt practices.

He said the corruption in the universities and other institutions was undermining government’s funding and investment in education.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14 over increase in lecturers’ allowances and salaries as well as improved funding for the universities.

Buhari has appealed to the union to call off the strike but the lecturers have stood their ground.

The President on Tuesday while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Office of Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), said ASUU was no less complicit in the corruption in tertiary education.

He said corruption in the education sector had continued to undermine investments, while critics downplayed funding by focusing only on budgetary allocations, urging a more comprehensive re-evaluation of expenditure.

The President said, “This year’s summit will mirror how corruption undermines educational policies, investments and create an unfriendly learning environment for our youths.

“Incessant strikes especially by unions in the tertiary education often imply that government is grossly underfunding education, but I must say that corruption in the education system from basic level to the tertiary level has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.

“The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.

“The total education budget for each year is therefore a reflection of both federal and state budgets and should be viewed as other financial commitments in their totality.

“The allocation to education in the federal budget should not be considered via allocation to the Federal Ministry of Education and also academic institutions alone, but should include allocation to the Universal Basic Education, transfers to TETFUND and refund from the Education Tax Pool Account to TETFUND.

“Corruption in the expenditure of internally generated revenue of tertiary institutions is a matter that has strangely not received the attention of stakeholders in tertiary education, including unions.

“I call on stakeholders to demand accountability in the administration of academic institutions and for unions to interrogate the bloated personnel and recurrent expenditure of their institutions. Let me also implore the Unions to work with the government to put faces and identities to names on the payroll.

“Due to declining resources, the government cannot bear the cost of funding education alone. I task our academics to attract endowments, research and other grants to universities, polytechnics and colleges of education similar to what obtains in other countries.”

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Seven police officers dismissed, 10 others demoted

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The Police Service Commission (PSC), on Tuesday, dismissed seven senior police officers over gross misconduct.

The commission also announced the demotion of 10 other officers through reduction in rank.

These decisions were taken during the continuation of the 15th plenary meeting of the commission.

The meeting is expected to end on Thursday, October 6, 2022, according to a report by The Trust.

Presided over by its acting chairman, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, the meeting considered all the Pending Disciplinary Matters (PDM) before the commission.

The PDMs, which totalled 47, also treated some appeals from dismissed police officers.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the meeting in Abuja, the spokesman for the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, said, the dismissed officers include one CSP, one SP and five ASPs.

He said that one SP was retired in public interest, adding that the commission reduced the ranks of one CSP to SP, three SPs to DSP, and two DSPs to ASPs.

The commission further reduced the ranks of four ASPs to Inspectors.

10 senior police officers, including an ACP, a CSP, a SP and two DSPs were given the punishment of severe reprimand.

Five ASPs were also awarded the punishment of severe reprimand.

Thirteen officers received the punishment of reprimand; two are to receive letters of warning while four officers were exonerated.

Ani quoted Justice Ogunbiyi as saying the commission would henceforth give the desired attention to Pending Disciplinary Matters so that those found guilty are punished immediately while those found not guilty are cleared to continue with their career progression.

Justice Ogunbiyi called on police officers to ensure they operate within established rules and avoid taking laws into their hands.

The commission, she said, would continue to work to sustain a professional police force.

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