By Stanley Azuakola
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has never hidden the fact that it does not trust the federal government. That was why despite the assurance by the government that it had deposited the sum of N200 billion in a CBN account as agreed when the union met with the president, ASUU was unconvinced. In addition to their other pending demands, they argued that they needed proof that the money has been paid.
In line with ASUU’s demands, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has confirmed that a sum of N200 billion has been fully paid into a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure Account.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, displayed the said letter when he addressed newsmen in Abuja on Monday.
Okupe talked tough during the press conference. He ignored the fact that the payment into the CBN account forms just one plank of ASUU’s demands. The union also wants the remaining agreements to be signed by the two sides in the presence of the NLC president as witness.
In the letter signed by the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Tunde Lemo, and addressed to the Accountant General of the Federation, the apex bank confirmed that the total sum of N200 billion is the balance in the account, as required.
The Letter titled “CONFIRMATION OF THE EXECUTION OF YOUR MANDATE FOR THE CREDIT OF ACCOUNT ON REVITALISATION OF UNIVERSITIES INFRASTRUCTURE ACCOUNT” revealed that the sum was paid in three tranches of N129.3b, N20.7b and N50b.
While reiterating that the President is fully committed to the implementation of agreements reached with ASUU, Okupe said a Needs Assessment Implementation Committee which has representatives of ASUU on board will be inaugurated tomorrow in order to fast track the utilization of the released funds and tackle infrastructure deficiency in the university system.
According to the presidential aide, the government has received several representations from eminent Nigerians and stakeholders on the need to temper justice with mercy regarding the ultimatum issued to the striking lecturers to resume work or face stiff sanctions.
“Government appreciates the fact that a number of universities have either resumed academic activities or announced resumption dates in line with the directives earlier issued by the Committee of Pro Chancellors,”Okupe said. “We appreciate the fact that many chapters of ASUU have resumed work and many more will follow suit shortly.”
He said that the FG wants the strike called off so that normalcy can be restored. According to him, as evidence of payment has been shown, the union has no other excuse to continue with the industrial action.
“This is the only honourable path for our distinguished academics in the present instance,” he said.