Former aide to erstwhile Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Reno Omokri, has claimed that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) currently on strike is demanding less than N80 billion to call of their industrial action.
Mr. Omokri stated this while reacting to the recent arrest of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris over alleged N80bn fraud.
Full Text: On May 16, 2022, Mr. Omokri on his twitter handle @renoomokri tweeted: “Dear ASUU: If the Accountant General of the Federation can steal N80 billion, you have no reason to end your strike. Ask Buhari to use the stolen N80 billion to pay you and keep the change. After all, the money ASUU is asking is not even up to N80 billion,” he said.
As at the time of this fact check, the tweet had generated about 4,000 retweets, 13,000 likes and about 1k comments with many screenshots of the tweet on Facebook.
ASUU had expressed grievances over the failure of the Federal Government to fulfil some of the agreements it made as far back as 2009. ASUU had on November 15, 2021, given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum over the failure to meet the demands.
The lecturers threatened to embark on another round of industrial action following alleged “government’s unfaithfulness” in the implementation of the Memorandum of Action it signed with the union, leading to the suspension of the 2020 strike action.
After the union’s National Executive Council meeting at the University of Abuja on November 13 and 14, ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, lamented that despite meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on October 14, 2021, on issues, including funding for revitalisation of public universities, earned academic allowances, University Transparency Accountability Solution; promotion arrears, renegotiation of 2009 ASUU-FGN Agreement, and the inconsistencies in Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System Payment, none of its demands had been met.
Following the threat, the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, promised that the union would be paid.
A few weeks after, ASUU suspended the planned strike, as N22.1 billion earned allowances were paid to lecturers in federal universities.
On the first claim made by Mr. Omokri that the accountant general stole N80 billion, Daily Trust findings has shown that these are allegations as the law states clearly a citizen remains innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
EFCC on their official Facebook on Monday 16th May 2022 stated that it apprehended Mr. Ahmed Idris in Kano in connection with diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80bn.
It said; “The Commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities and failed to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.”
As such, from the EFCC’s stand, the AGF was apprehended for further questioning which does not translate to Omokri’s assertion that he stole N80bn which is why the minister of Finance Budget and National Planning recently suspended the AGF pending the outcome of the investigation by the anti graft agency.
On the claim that ASUU’s demand was less than N80bn, facts available to Daily Trust shows only N92bn has so far been paid to the striking lectures as disclosed by the minister of labour and employment, Mr. Chris Ngige.
Commenting on government’s efforts to restore calm in the education sector, Ngige said: “Why I said that the 2020 December agreement we had with ASUU is on course, in terms of implementation, is that in that agreement, there is a line that says the federal government should pay N40bn for Earned Academic Allowances (EAA) to ASUU and other unions. That has been paid.
“Also, N30bn was budgeted or was to be paid for revitalisation. That also was paid late last year, while N22.127bn was agreed, also in that December agreement, to be paid from Supplementary Budget as Earned Allowances for 2021. That money was also paid last year.
“It was put in the Supplementary Budget, which was passed around June or July, and the money was remitted. So, the government has done that,” he said.
He however stated the government does not have the money to pay ASUU what they are demanding which amounts to about N1.3trn.
Speaking on Channels Television, Ngige pointed out that the N1.3trn revitalisation fund was a mere promise by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan when Nigeria’s finances were stable.
Ngige said: “The N1.3trn you are talking about was promised by the (Goodluck) Jonathan government. Oil was selling between $100 to $120 per barrel then and the revenue of the federation was rich. They paid N200bn which they borrowed from TETFund. They did not take it from the federation account.
“A committee was set up with ASUU as members. Government said ‘we are going to drop N25bn for you to show you in good faith that we are not talking nonsense. We don’t have it. The government didn’t say we are going to pay N1.1trn that is remaining.
Recall that on February 14, 2022, ASUU declared a warning strike which lasted for a period of 4 weeks, it was later extended by 8 weeks and now three months which is expected to last until August 2022.
The claim that ASUU is demanding less than N80 billion to end their strike is false. The Union’s demands, especially for revitalization and earned allowances, amount to about N1.1trn.