The government team had met last week but could not conclude on certain issues.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the position of government as regards the insistence that the university teachers should embrace the IPPIS payment platform has not changed.
A government source privy to the ongoing negotiation told Vanguard that government may not go beyond the offer it had made to ASUU, claiming that it was even difficult for government to accept to pay N50 billion Earned Academic Allowances and revitalization fund because of the economic situation in the country occasioned by Coronavirus pandemic.
The source said, “We didn’t conclude our meeting last week, we are continuing our meeting on Monday (today).
Asked whether there was any hope that the government would concede to ASUU’s demand, the source said,” Which demand? Government said it has given to them what it has, would you go and manufacture money which you don’t have to give?
“Government says it is even finding it difficult to raise the offer they made, they are running round to get the offer, the offer on Earned Allowances of N30 billion for all the unions in the universities even though ASUU is claiming that it is for them alone, that is the point of disagreement.”
Also asked if Universities will remain closed now that ASUU is adamant, the source said that in collective bargaining agreement, the employer agrees to pay what could be affordable.
The source said, “They (ASUU) will not be adamant, ability to pay is a cardinal function of labour negotiation, you take it into account in any collective bargaining agreement.
“Covid-19 has affected everybody, it has changed so many economic indices world over, Nigeria is not an exception.
” For government to even cough out N50 billion in one swoop is like a miracle, N30 billion Earned Allowances, N20 billion revitalisation, that is what government is looking for to get between now and end of the year. N30 billion they have gotten and looking around for another N20 billion.”
The Source said that the N30 billion was ready and will be released to the unions any time agreement was reached on the sharing formula among the unions.
” It has been prepared, it is in the Accountant General’s Office. The mandate has been done, the only point of disagreement now is that ASUU is saying it is for them alone whereas government has also negotiated with the other unions and informed them that N30 billion has been gotten for them to go and share according to the template they have in the Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission, this is not the first time they are sharing money together, ” the source said.
He said that the Government will inform ASUU of what it has concluded to do.
“They (ASUU) will be communicated to, then the question of mode of payment will also be another issue because ASUU is insisting they won’t go on IPPIS, while their UTAS is not ready.
“So there are three major areas of disagreement now, revitalization which they claim they want N110 billion, government doesn’t have N110 billion to give, they made their offer of N20 billion.
“Earned Allowances which government has since October been running around and has N30 billion and is ready to be paid any moment agreement is reached with ASUU and that agreement is that the N30 billion is for all the unions in the universities and that the extra N10 billion that will make it N40 billion will be paid around 2021 February, March.
“But for now N30 billion is ready and N20 billion will be put into revitalization to make it N50 billion all together, before the end of November the N20 billion will be ready,” the source said.