The Federal Government yesterday accused the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) of unilaterally fixing the salaries of lecturers.
It also said there was no Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between parties yet.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, stated these in a statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Olajide Oshundun.
The minister accused ASUU of fixing its salaries and allowances through the Nimi Briggs Committee to the exclusion of the statutory government ministries and agencies that manage finances.
According to him, the committee’s proposal of 109 -185 per cent wage increase would cost N560billion in salaries alone, up from N412billion.
The statement reads: “This clarification has become necessary in view of the deluge of deliberate misinformation being dished out to Nigerians by the President of ASUU, Prof. Osodeke as well as his branch leaders, calling on President Buhari to sign an agreement which they claimed to have reached with the Federal Government.
“We wish therefore to inform Nigerians that there is no such Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that has been reached between the Federal Government, ASUU and other university unions on the renegotiation of their salaries and allowances (wages).
“What is in existence is a proposal. Even when such a CBA is made, it is not the President that signs it. From available records, no Nigerian President or sovereign signs such.
“The true position is that Nigerians are aware that ASUU has been on strike since February 14, 2022, and locked in negotiations on their demand, especially of their conditions of service – wages, salaries, allowances and other public service matters, that should be guided by relevant Federal Government ministries and agencies – Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Budget Office of the Federation, National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Office of Head of Service of the Federation, through the newly set up Prof. Nimi Briggs Committee.
“Note that Prof Nimi Brigg Committee, just like the Prof. Munzali Committee it replaced, is an internal committee of the Ministry of Education to receive ASUU demands and renegotiate areas of 2009 Agreement while also receiving briefs from the MDAs mentioned above that act as advisers, before making any counter offer to ASUU and other unions.
“Unfortunately, ASUU insisted that these relevant advisory MDAs recuse themselves from the sitting of the Briggs Committee, accusing them of non-cooperation.
“All alone with the Prof Briggs Committee, ASUU started fixing their salaries and allowances to the exclusion of the statutory government ministries and agencies that manage the entire annual finances of government, budget and fiscal policies and the Office of the Head of Service that is in charge of ensuring that public service rules and regulations are not undermined in any condition of service offered to public officers in the universities.
“Because of this exclusion engineered by ASUU, and the arising complaints to the Chief of Staff to the President and the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment by the concerned MADs, they set up an inter-Ministerial/Agency sub Committee comprising the affected MDAs under the Minister of State Budget and Planning to quickly look into Prof. Briggs Committee report which to all intents and purpose was still a proposal in June 2022 at the government side meeting.
“This assignment was to be completed with the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages and given two weeks to come up with their recommendation.
“Having rounded off its work, the committee returned as verdict: that with the Prof. Briggs Proposal of 109 -185 per cent increase in the university wage structure, the Federal Government will incur an additional N560billion as salaries alone, on top of the present N412billion, less all other allowances such as earned academic allowances and fringe benefits, teaching allowance, field trip, responsibility and postgraduate supervision, allowances, hazard allowances which were to gulp another N170billion.
“In all, the sum of N1.12 trillion will be needed to pay the salaries and allowances of university lecturers and other staff in the university system.
“At present, the wage bill of the university staff and their colleagues in teaching health systems gulp nearly 50 per cent of the total Federal Government staff personnel cost/wages.
“Recall that the staff of polytechnics and colleges of education have also placed their wage review on the front burner since two months ago.
“This is just like the medical doctors and the JOHESU who have placed before the Federal Government, the need for wage review which the government agrees that even with the 10 per cent review of salary, following the Minimum Wage and the consequential review of 2019, her employees will need some salary enhancement for all sectors and just for education or health employees alone.
“Currently, the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages has finished the review of the Prof. Nimi Briggs proposal and will shortly submit the same to the President.
“This clears every doubt that there is an agreement before the President waiting for his signature. There is none!”
The ministry said a fresh test on payment platforms – UTAS and UPPPS – have been concluded and results are awaited, while that of IPPIS will be concluded next week.
Ngige urged the lecturers to return to work.
“We finally use this medium to once more appeal to ASUU and their sister university unions whose complaints except for the renegotiation of their 2013/2014 agreement, to go back to school, knowing full well that these ceaseless strikes de-market our universities and certificates therefrom, while government labours with their leaders to produce a standard pay rise as soon as possible,” Ngige said.