The Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVCs) of Nigerian Federal Universities has confirmed to be true the claim by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, that the Federal Government had released a sum of N55.5bn to the 38 federal universities across the country over the weekend.
The money according to a report credited to the minister covers N30 billion revitalisation funds and the N22.5 billion for academic earned allowances, which formed part of the contentious issues between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), upon which the latter has been threatening to go on strike should nothing happens.
ASUU, however, while also confirming the release of the money said the amount was not only insignificant but also not the major issues the union is agitating for as contained in their agreements with the federal government.
The Chairman of CVCs, Professor Age Abdulkareem who is also the vice-chancellor of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) confirmed the release of the money to the Nigerian Tribune on Sunday.
He said he was very sure as far as UNILORIN is concerned that the university had gotten its own share of the money while assuming that other universities would have gotten theirs too. Similarly, the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Akoka has equally confirmed to our correspondent that UNILAG has also gotten its own allocation.
“But I think it is the Accountant-General of the Federation who can really confirm if all federal universities have gotten theirs,” Prof Abdulkareem, stressed.
He said with the release of the money, means the federal government has taken a step but it will need to do more.
Prof Abdulkareem, however, said the VCs prayer and request have always been that the universities would remain open and peaceful while negotiations to resolve issues between government and workers’ unions could be going on at the same time.
When contacted for confirmation of the release of the money as a major party in the matter, the President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, didn’t answer several phone calls nor respond to the SMS sent to him till 5:50 pm, the time of filing this report.
But a top officer of the union also confirmed the release of the money to Nigerian Tribune on condition of anonymity as the person is not authorized to speak to newsmen
According to the officer, “it is true that the Federal government has released the money but apart from the fact that the amount is too small from what is in our agreements, that is not the major and pressing issue that ASUU wants the federal government to address.”
The officer said apart from the fact that the federal government ought to have released N200 billion as revitalization funds and not N30 billion, it also supposed to have stated clearly when and how the remaining N170 billion would be released.
“Similarly, the issues of UTAS and that of the signing of renegotiation of the agreements and many others are also there without mentioning them and that is why the N55.5 billion said to be released is not that important to us as ASUU,” the source stressed.