Despite the resolve on Thursday by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, to continue the on-going strike until all agreements signed in 2009 are reached, the federal government, on Friday, ordered that lecturers should go back to classrooms after it had disbursed the sum of N30 billion for earned academic allowances.
The directive which was given by the secretary to the government of the federation, Sen Anyim Pius Anyim, during a meeting between the federal government and the vice-chancellors of the 61 public universities, stated that"Government, hereby, urges every staff of the nation's universities to return to work as all issues are being resolved."
He said with particular reference to the contentious issue of earned allowances, every staff of the universities that is so entitled should verify his claim with the university council and accordingly get paid as "from the foregoing, it is obvious that government has demonstrated sufficient commitment to the implementation of the 2009 FG/ASUU agreement.
"After series of discussions, government has now provided N30 billion to support the university councils in settling the earned allowances. The amount will be disbursed to the various university councils which are in the position to know who is entitled to how much after verification."
He revealed that "Traditionally, universities pay this to deserving staff but because of the amount which ASUU now claims as arrears, government has decided to assist the university councils topay" as government did not receive any computation of amount involved until February, 2013.
"By this computation, ASUU is claiming N92 billion as arrears forthree year's payment based on percentage rage of between 15 and 20 per cent of personnel cost."
While there was consensus that revitalising the tertiary institutions is of critical importance to the nation, Anyim noted that "when put together, the amount of funds from the budgetary and non-budgetary sources that goes into the sector is quite huge but without corresponding impact.
While acknowledging the contributions of the Non-Academic Staff Union, NASU, Senior Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and other stakeholders, Anyim reiterated the government's resolve 'to bringing the students back to school and appreciated the patience of parents and students as government is making every effort to revitalise the university system."
It would be recalled that on July 2, 2013, ASUU declared what it called "total and indefinite strike" over issues it says has remained unresolved pertaining to an agreement it reached with government in 2009.