Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has appealed for calm over the issues between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal Government.
The union, which embarked on strike in February, called it off in October following the intervention of the speaker.
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In a statement on Monday, Gbajabiamila said the Federal Government acted in the interest of the law, adding that it was the government’s legitimate interest to prevent disruptive industrial actions.
“When 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 the sum of N170bn to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers.
“The Bill also includes additional N300bn in revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities. Furthermore, the House of Representatives has convened the Accountant General of the Federation ASUU and other stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
“The Executive position that it is 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.
“Nonetheless, interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers. We look forward to a favourable consideration by President Buhari, who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues. 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.
“Three weeks ago, I called for a national conversation on the substantive reforms required to address the underlying issues bedevilling public tertiary education in Nigeria. To that end, the House of Representatives is convening a National Summit on Tertiary Education Reform. We have called for papers and memoranda from members of the public. The submissions we receive and expert presentations at the Summit will inform our policy recommendations and actions. I urge all citizens and stakeholders to participate in this crucial effort to reinvent our public tertiary institutions into respected citadels of learn 7. God bless and keep you all, and God bless our Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Gbajabiamila added.