FG, ASUU misjudged cost implication of agreement - Maku
The Federal Government said on Tuesday that it was not properly informed on the cost implications of the agreement signed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities in 2009,
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said that the government did not calculate well only to find out that the cost of the resultant agreement was too hefty for it to bear.
Maku told journalist at a press conference in Abuja that even ASUU was unaware of the cost implication before the representatives of both parties signed the agreement.
ASUU has call out its members on a strike for close to four months now pressing for full implementation of the agreement, but the Federal Government insists on meeting them half way in order not to cripple other equally important sectors that make financial demand on it.
The minister said that the government is worried by the lingering strike and had taken steps to resolve it, indicating that the lecturers have not shown enough understanding.
The minister said, 'One of the things that have tormented all of us is the ASUU strike that has lasted for over three months. The strike arose out of a disagreement on the payment of allowances to our university teachers.
'There was an agreement in 2009 or so and sitting allowance was listed under the agreement. As at the time they were listed, neither the government nor ASUU was aware of the exact figures it was going to take to pay those allowances because the allowances were not calculated.
'In the course of this period, the allowances were calculated and the gross began to emerge. ASUU made a demand for the payment and government did not say no. The agreement was supposed to be implemented by the various university governing councils. They were also supposed to come largely from Internally Generated Revenue.'
The minister said these facts, the government entered into negotiation with the lecturers when ASUU threatened to go on strike.
Maku added, 'We also received a report on infrastructure requirement in the universities. President Goodluck Jonathan promised to deal with both problems as our finances would permit. We agreed there was the need to intervene seriously in the universities.
'What happened under this period is that government then went into negotiation with ASUU, put N30bn on the ground to enable the university councils to pay the allowances to the teachers and promised to pay the rest as time goes on. ASUU said no. They needed about N90bn at the same time.
'We negotiated with them until negotiation broke down. In spite of the breakdown of negotiation, the Federal Government convened a meeting chaired by the Vice President of the country in our continued determination to end the strike. Government again promised another N10bn for the payment of the allowances. That brings it to N40bn for the payment of the allowances.'
The minister said that parents and Nigerians should join hands with the government to appeal to the striking teachers to call off the strike, while on the lecturers to put away politics from the struggle and consider the impact of the long industrial action on the development of their students.