The federal government will, today, resume talks with the leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), with the hope of an agreement that would bring an end to the ongoing strike in public universities.
Universities lecturers went on strike on November 4, demanding improved funding of universities and implementation of previous agreements with the government.
The national president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, confirmed the meeting to PREMIUM TIMES Monday morning.
The meeting is scheduled to hold at the Ministry of Labour and Employment at 4p.m.
This will be the eighth meeting since the union embarked on the industrial strike.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported how the union asked Nigerian government to release N50 billion, to demonstrate its commitment to the revitalisation of public universities, in line with previous agreements with them.
The striking lecturers gave this as one of the condition for calling off its strike.
The N50 billion, the union said, will form the first tranche of the N220 billion government agreed for the project, this year.
However, one major issue dragging the negotiations forth and back is the revitalisation of the universities. At present, the government is yet to release the N1.1 trillion it agreed to release as part of the funds for the revitalisation project.
The 2013 Memorandum of Understanding stipulated that public universities need N1.3 trillion for a modest revitalisation. The fund was to be released in tranches of N200billion in 2013, N220billion 2014, N220billion 2015, 220billion in 2016, N220billion in 2017 and N220billion in 2018.
Although the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan released N200 billion in 2013, since then, nothing has been released.
At the seventh meeting of the government with the leadership of ASUU January 8, the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, said the dispute with the teachers was on the verge of being resolved. He listed the fresh concessions made by the government to ASUU.
According to Mr Ngige, the Accountant-General of the Federation and the ministry of finance presented evidence that N15.4 billion had been released to public universities for payment of salary shortfall.
On earned academic allowances, he said the president, Muhammadu Buhari, approved N20 billion to offset arrears of the 2009 to 2012 verified earnings by university teachers.
As part of the agreement reached between the union and the government before ASUU ended its industrial action in September 2017, the federal government had released N22.9 billion for earned allowances of both academic and non-academic staff across 22 Federal universities.
Of the amount, ASUU members got N18.3billion, while non-teaching staff in the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian University (SSANU), Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) got N4.6 billion.
The sharing formula, which was condemned by the three non-academic staff unions, led to pockets of protests on various campuses at the time, and eventually led to the unions embarking on a long strike.
Apparently, to avoid the controversy that greeted the sharing of the allowance in 2017, ASUU is insisting that the federal government should categorically state the amount earmarked for its members, which it said, must not be less than the N18.3 billion it received then.