‘Seun Ibukun-Oni, – The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to remain calm over the claim of half salary payment by the Federal Government.
In a statement he personally signed on Monday, the Speaker noted that efforts to find a lasting solution to the issue are on, as President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated an interest in wading into it.
He, however, acknowledged that the position taken by the Federal Government that it was not obligated to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is premised on the law and the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.
The Speaker, while restating his commitment to providing sustainable reforms to the Nigerian tertiary education system, noted that the challenges facing Nigerian tertiary education are multifaceted, hence the need for all stakeholders to come together and proffer solutions.
He added that a national tertiary education summit would be convened during which stakeholders would come up with ways to make things better in the sector.
He said: “When the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called off their industrial action three weeks ago, it meant that academic activities could resume in our nation’s public universities, and students could return to their academic pursuits after the prolonged interruption.
“This decision was rightly heralded nationwide as the correct decision. Since then, the Executive and the House of Representatives have worked to address the issues that led to the strike. We are currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill, which includes N170 billion to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers. The Bill also includes additional N300 billion revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.
“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.
“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required. Therefore, I urge all parties to be patient and grant each other the presumption of goodwill to the extent necessary to achieve our shared objectives.
“This is not a time for political brinkmanship. There is no more pressing objective than to preclude the possibility of further disruptions to the academic calendar of the universities. We must prevent this possibility by all means, as these disruptions risk the promise and potential of our nation’s youth.