The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Tuesday, said the Federal Government could only afford 23.5% salary increase for university lecturers while a 35% increment will be enjoyed by professors.

The minister also noted that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), warned against signing agreements which the government will not be able to meet.

Adamu disclosed this during a meeting he had with vice-chancellors and other stakeholders in the university system in Abuja.

The minister noted that the government told ASUU, “That the Federal Government can only afford a 23.5% salary increase for all categories of the workforce in federal universities, except for the professorial cadre which will enjoy a 35% upward review.

“Henceforth, allowances that pertain to ad-hoc duties of the academic and non-academic staff (members) shall be paid as and when due by the Governing Councils of universities to which such services are rendered and to the staff members who perform them.

“That a sum of N150bn shall be provided for in the 2023 Budget as funds for the revitalisation of Federal Universities to be disbursed to the institutions in the first quarter of the year, and that N 50bn shall be provided for in the 2023 Budget for the payment of outstanding areas of earned academic allowances, to be paid in the first quarter of the year.”

Speaking at the end of the meeting, the pro-chancellor of the National Open University of Nigeria, Prof Peter Okebukola, said the government was ready to go all out to ensure that university lecturers resume work.

Meanwhile, a 14-man committee set up by the minister as part of efforts aimed at ending the ongoing strike commenced meeting at the National Universities Commission on Monday, The PUNCH has learnt.

The committee members are expected to harmonise the recommendations of the Emeritus Professor Nimi-Briggs and the proposals of the Federal Government.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, told The PUNCH, “A 14-man committee has been set up and the committee will be chaired by the minister. The plan is to harmonise the Nimi-Briggs report, the stand by ASUU and the proposals of the Federal Government. The committee has started meeting as we speak; they will transmit their report to the President before ASUU is briefed.”

“The draft agreement was critically reviewed and the proposed salary increment considered unrealistic and out of tune with the current realities of the national economy,” he said.

Goong added, “Members of the committee include pro-chancellors and vice-chancellors among others. You have the vice-chancellors of the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Nigeria Nsukka and the University of Benin.

“Others are Prof Nimi-Briggs, Prof Olu Obafemi, Udo Udoma, Bashir Dalhatu; the Executive Secretary of NUC, JAMB registrar, representatives from the Academy of letters, science, medicine and social sciences.”

When contacted, the National President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, told The PUNCH that the union would await an official correspondence from the government.

“This information you are giving us is privileged, we have not heard about it. We await official correspondence from them after which we will make our position known,’’ he stated.

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