The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has confirmed that a sum of N200 billion agreed with the Academic Staff Union of Universities at a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on November 5 has been fully paid into a Revitalization of Universities Infrastructure Account.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, disclosed this today in Abuja, where he made the CBN letter available to newsmen.
Okupe did not, however, address the question of the signed statement being demanded by ASUU outlining the terms of their agreement. A part of the stalemate is that in the past, the government has failed to implement agreements reached with the union, a mistake ASUU seems unwilling to repeat.
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 indicates that the sum was paid in three tranches of 129,300,000,000,000k; 20,700,000,000,00k and 50,000,000,000,00k.
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 the government was desirous of normalcy in the educational sector in view of the importance of the sector to the society, adding that with the evidence of the availability of the N200m for immediate disbursement to the universities, it was expected that ASUU would call off the strike.
“This is the only honourable path for our distinguished academics in the present instance,” he threatened.
He added that the government does not intend to victimize anyone who participates in a legitimate strike action in view of the fact that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Labour Organisation convention which guarantees workers’ right to strikes convened in line with due processes.
A commentator who read Okupe’s statement today said it was unlikely that the threat implied by the Special Adviser was lost on members of ASUU, as it is the government which has extensive credibility problems, not the union, and lacks the right to speak about honour.