RESOLUTIONS TAKEN AT AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE OF VICE-CHANCELLORS OF NIGERIAN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES ON WAYS TO AMICABLY RESOVE THE FGN/ASUU IMPASSE.

RESOLUTIONS TAKEN AT AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE OF VICE-CHANCELLORS OF NIGERIAN FEDERAL UNIVERSITIES ON WAYS TO AMICABLY RESOVE THE FGN/ASUU IMPASSE.

1.0 PREAMBLE:
Following an invitation extended to Pro-Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Federal Universities by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission for a meeting with the Hon. Minister of Education on Tuesday 6th September, 2022, an emergency meeting of CVC was summoned to review the position of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) via-à-vis that of the Federal Government on the major issues in contention with the aim of finding amicable ways of bringing the protracted strike to an end.

2.0 ISSUES IN CONTENTION: THE POSITION OF ASUU AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT VIS-À-VIS THE RECOMMENDATION(S) OF CVC

 ASUU’S POSITION
1 Adoption and Deployment of University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) as payment platform for University staff in place of IPPIS

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

Government will look at the strength of the two platforms suggested by ASUU and SSANU and upgrade IPPIS

CVC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

i.CVC is aware that a Technical Committee was set up by the Federal Government to subject the three platforms to integrity tests.

ii.The Technical Committee has since completed its assignment and its final report should be speedily acted upon.

iii.The updated platform must take care of the peculiarities of the Universities as pointed out by the various unions.

ASUU’S POSITION

2 Immediate release of N170 billion to complete one tranche of Needs Assessment Revitalization fund in line with 2020 MoA to put close to the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement Federal Government has agreed to this and said it would be included in the 2023 budget ASUU should exercise patience while the Federal Government should be honourable to include this demand in the 2023 budget as promised.
3. Immediate release of N50 billion to complete the payment of arrears of Earned Allowances in line with the 2020 MoA to put close to the 2009 FGN-ASUU Agreement

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

Federal Government has agreed to this and said it would be included in the 2023 budget

CVC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

I. The Federal Government should consider this demand, source for funds and pay this N50 billion now as a sign of goodwill and keeping faith with the 2020 MoA

Ii. ASUU should reconsider its position and reciprocate this gesture to suspend the strike

ASUU’S POSITION
4. Release of Government White Paper on the 2021 Visitation Panels report to the Federal Government

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

It will be released when the Government decides to do so

CVC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

CVC is appealing to Government to expedite action on the release the White Paper as soon as possible.

ASUU’S POSITION
5. Intervention on the Draft Bill for empowering NUC to curb proliferation of Universities especially by State Governments

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

Education is on the concurrent legislative list and the regulatory body cannot deny any legitimate request from the State. Not a matter for FGN to interfere.

CVC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

CVC believes that this is a constitutional matter domiciled with the NUC. The CVC agrees that the proliferation of Universities can have deleterious effects on the quality and standard of University Education. However, the conditions for licensing and quality control by NUC as envisaged by the draft bill is already on-going.

 ASUU’S POSITION
6. Payment of withheld salaries of University Academics since March 2022

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

No Work, No pay principle must be applied

CVC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

I. The position of Government on this item will create more damage to the system because the students would bear the brunt of ASUU’s response.
ii. Universities because of the peculiar nature of their operations must cover the scheme of work as provided by the curriculum.
iii. CVC appeals to the Federal Government to re-consider its stand and pay the withheld salaries on compassionate ground, and especially in the interest of Nigerian students.
iv. Government’s acceptance of this appeal would no doubt facilitate a quick resolution of the impasse.

 ASUU’S POSITION
7. Salary adjustment for academic staff being proposed by Government in difference to what was agreed with the negotiating team is unacceptable in addressing the serious problem causing brain-drain and low staff morale

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT’S POSITION

Government is concerned on the system wide impact of the recommended increase by its negotiating committee.

CVC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

I. .CVC supports the call for salary adjustment especially in the present dispensation where the templates used by the National Salaries, Incomes & Wages Commission and the IPPIS have depleted the salaries of academics and Vice-Chancellors, to an all time low.
Ii.Chief Lecturers in Polytechnics and Colleges of Education now earn more than Professors in Universities. The proposal by the Nimi Briggs Committee should be revisited as their figures represents a better offer that will stem the tide of unrest in the Universities.
III. Financial Autonomy should be extended to Governing Councils to allow them to determine the salaries of the staff in their various universities subject to a national minimum as agreed by all stakeholders.

Conclusion
CVC sympathizes with our students, parents and other stakeholders over the prolonged strike which is the second longest in our history. By 2023, it will be 50 years since academics first went on strike in Nigeria. It is evident that by the time we resolve this dispute, we will need to return to the table to re-think the philosophy of University education in Nigeria, its funding and governance structure and the role each strategic stakeholder or partner will play. The public universities have in the past five months lost a substantial number of Nigerian academics who have resigned from their appointments and are taking on jobs outside academia or seeking more financially rewarding opportunities in other climes. Furthermore, the embargo on employment and other bureaucratic bottlenecks which universities are made to pass through in their process of recruitment to replenish existing vacancies is not helping the already bad staffing situation.

As Chief Executives of our various institutions, we can only advice and caution our principals against a forceful reopening of universities as this would be most counter-productive. First, it must be noted that no Federal University was formally shut down. Second, the power to open or shut down a university is vested only in the Senate of each university. Third any attempt to keep students on campus without their being fully engaged in academic and other activities may have disastrous consequences.

We also note that the six months of industrial action has triggered unintended consequences such as prolonging the academic session, exhausted financial reserves, and creating two and in some cases, three backlogs of admission exercises. Many special equipment especially in our laboratories will need to be re-calibrated, physical facilities need to be renovated and electricity and water bills are outstanding. Given that many of us have not received their overheads, Government will need to support the universities with special grants for re-opening.

We urge all parties to adopt a give-and-take option in the negotiations and employ decorum and decency in the language of communication. All hands must be on deck as we seek to make the required sacrifices for the sake of University education in Nigeria.

Signed
Professor Sulayman A. Abdulkareem
Chairman, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Federal Universities
Vice-Chancellor, University of Ilorin.

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