If the words of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala are to be believed, the five-week old strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may not be resolved anytime soon as she declared that government has no resources to meet the union’s demands.
Speaking earlier today in Minna at the annual National Council on Finance and Economic Development meeting with theme, “Restructuring Nigeria’s Finances”, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala explained that the striking university lecturers were asking for N92 billion in extra allowances; an obligation the Federal Government cannot meet as it moves to reduce the structure of public expenditures.
According to the coordinating minister for the economy, “At present ASUU wants the government to pay N92 billion in extra allowances when resources are not there and when we are working to integrate past increases in pensions. We need to make choices in this country as we are getting to the stage where recurrent expenditures take the bulk of our resources and people get paid but can do no work.”
She argued that if the demands of the striking lecturers are met and “we continue to pay them salaries and allowances, we will not be able to provide infrastructure in the universities.”
The minister noted that when she assumed office “the share of recurrent expenditure in our total budgets had increased astronomically. “
“In fact recurrent expenditures accounted for about 77.2 per cent of the federal budget and we are now working to re-balance this ratio,” she added.