Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to remain calm over their claim of half salary payment by the federal government.
In a personal statement issued on Monday in Abuja, the Speaker noted that efforts to find lasting solutions to the concerns frequently raised by ASUU were ongoing.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had indicated interest to wade into the latest concerns raised by the union.
“When the ASUU called off its industrial action three weeks ago, it meant that academic activities could resume in our nation’s public universities,” he said.
He said the executive and the House of Reps had worked to address the issues that led to the strike, adding that the House is currently working on the 2023 Appropriations Bill.
This, according to him, includes N170 billion to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers.
He said the bill included additional N300 billion revitalisation fund to improve the infrastructure and operations of the federal universities.
“Furthermore, the House of Reps 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),” he said.
He said the effort was being supervised by the Chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education, Rep. Aminu Suleiman.
Gbajabiamila, however, noted that the position taken by the executive that it is not obligated to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is premised on the law.
He said the decision was also premised on the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions.
The speaker said that intervention had been made to explore the possibility of partial payments to the lecturers, adding that it looked forward to a favourable consideration by the president.
He said Buhari had manifested his desire to what was prudent and necessary to resolve all outstanding issues.
Gbajabiamila said the house is convening a national summit on Tertiary Education Reform, adding that it had called for papers and memoranda from members of the public.
He said submissions received as well as expert presentations at the summit would inform the policy recommendations and actions.