Femi Gbajabiamila, the speaker of the House of Representatives has revealed a proposed N170 Billion appropriation bill to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of lecturers, while he called for a national summit on tertiary education reform.
Gbajabiamila made this known in a statement he signed and made available to BusinessDay on Tuesday over the half salary paid to the members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) for the month of October. The pro rata payment has generated a lot of ripples, leading to a meeting of the lecturers union in Abuja to re-evaluate the situation.
“We are currently working on the 2023 appropriations bill, which includes the sum of N170 billion to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers. The bill also includes an additional N300 billion in revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities,” he said.
The leaders of the lower chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral National Assembly explained that when ASUU members 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. And that this decision was rightly heralded nationwide as the right decision.
“Three weeks ago, I called for a national conversation on the substantive reforms required to address the underlying issues bedeviling 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” Gbajabiamila said.
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“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 learning.
“The House of Representatives has convened the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), ASUU, and other stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).”
This effort, according to the speaker, is being supervised by Aminu Suleiman, the chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education.
He explained that the executive’s 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.
However, he highlighted the fact that interventions have been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers.
“We look forward to a favourable consideration by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who has manifested his desire to what is prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues,” he said.
“Implementing meaningful change takes time, especially when appropriations and modifications to systems such as IPPIS are required. 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.”