The federal government has threatened to institute legal actions against the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU over the protracted strike.
Labour and Employment Minister, Chris Ngige, issued the threat at the end of about a three-hour meeting with the leadership of the union in Abuja.
Both parties in their characteristic manner, expressed hope of an end to the industrial action in their opening remarks.
But after more than two hours behind closed doors, ASUU insists nothing new was put on the table.
In an interview with newsmen, the Minister said government may be forced to file a legal case against the striking University teachers to arrest the stalemate.
ASUU is asking the Federal Government to release N110 billion for revitalisation. But the government, two weeks ago, offered to release N20 billion for revitalisation.
Also, ASUU is insisting the N30 billion Earned Academic Allowance promised by the Federal Government should be for its members alone.
In total, the government has offered to release N50 billion to the striking lecturers, which is a far cry from what ASUU is asking the government to release.
These are some of the issued discussed at the resumed meeting between the government team and ASUU delegation on Wednesday in Abuja.
After hours of deliberation, the meeting again failed to reach an agreement on three key issues: revitalisation of the university system, Earned Academic Allowance and the controversial payroll system – the Integrated Personnel Payroll System (IPPIS).
Ngige said the government side will meet separately on Friday to consider the counteroffer tabled by ASUU.
He said: “There are three issues: revitalisation fund where government offered ASUU N20 billion as a sign of good faith based on the MoU they entered into in 2013 as a result of the renegotiation they had with government in 2009.
“This present government is still committed to it. While we are giving them offers of some fund. This government is not against revitalisation but this government says that because of dire economic situation, because of Covid-19, we cannot really pay in the N110 billion which they are demanding for revitalisation. We offered N20 billion as revitalisation fund.
“On Earned Academic Allowances (EAA), the government offered N30 billion to all the unions in the universities, making it N50 billion all together, if you add the N20bn for revitalisation.
“ASUU is saying that the N30 billion should be for lecturers alone, irrespective of the fact that there are three other unions. So there is a little problem there. We don’t have any money to offer apart from this N30 billion.
“Again, the cardinal issue is the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) versus IPPIS. Today ASUU submitted their documents on UTAS for onward submission to National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). As you know last week, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy had approved that NITDA gets their system (UTAS) and subject it to integrity test. This test should be conducted without fear or favour and as early as possible. So today they have submitted the documents for onward transmission to NITDA.
“One other issue that has arisen is the issue of the transition period. How do you get the Earned Academic Allowances that is due to you any other entitlement that government wants to pay you?
“They want an exemption from IPPIS and the government side headed by the Accountant – General of the Federation said that IPPIS is the only government approved payment platform.
“So that is where we are for now. So we are all going back to our principals and they will receive via me the irreducible minimum of what federal government has to offer.
“The government side will meet on Friday and after that they will communicate ASUU and in communicating them, if there is a need for a meeting, a date will be fixed for it.”