By Tony Nwanne
The Minister of Labour and Empowerment, Chris Ngige has revealed that the federal government could not meet up with the demands of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) earned allowance worth N284bn.
The minister said due to economic recession hitting the country, it cannot meet up with the earned allowance.
Ngige said this while answering questions from State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Ngige said there was no way the government could pay the allowance because there was no money.
The minister said the government had conceded to the union the right to exclude endowment funds that accrued to universities from the Treasury Single Account.
He said while the government agreed to ASUU’s demand to exclude endowment funds from the TSA, that did not mean that universities’ councils would not have right to audit such an account.
Ngige added, “the other aspect of it is the earned allowance. The earned allowance is the only one that is not sorted out now because everybody knows and agrees that we are in a recession.
“If we are in a recession and you are asking us to pay you N284bn, nobody will pay it because the money is not there.
“So, they (ASUU) agreed and the National Assembly also agreed, but the government offered them some amount pending when we finish auditing of the first tranche of money that has been given to them in that same area of earned allowances.
“That tranche of money that they collected is being audited, but the auditing process is very slow because some people for some strange reasons are not allowing auditing to take place. So, a time frame has been fixed of six months within which the auditing will be done.
“Within those six months, government has offered something that they will be paying on a monthly basis and ASUU has also made a counter proposal to government so both parties have gone back to their principals.”