The presidency, Wednesday, said there was proof to show it has actually paid the sum of N200 billion into an account with the Central Bank of Nigeria designated for funding the nation’s comatose universities.
Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities had said its lingering strike would continue until the federal government made an installment of N200bn for funding of universities, as agreed in the last meeting between the two parties. The federal government had said the money had been deposited with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and had threatened to sack lecturers who fail to resume work by December 9. ASUU however dismissed the threat, saying there was no proof that the said money had been deposited.
The Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said at a press briefing in Abuja that the account, a “revitalization of Universities Infrastructural Account,” was authorized by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation on November 13.
Arguing that there were enough reasons for the nation’s striking university lecturers to return to the classroom, Okupe said, “I state categorically that I have personally seen the balance in the account as of today and confirm that it contains the requisite amount and disbursement will commence as soon as on going administrative processes are sorted out.”
He said he wanted to re-affirm that the President and the administration have no credibility issues whatsoever.
“Mr. President has always honored his words and obligations to the Nigerian people as and at when due,” he said.
Okupe dismissed the four items mentioned by ASUU as preconditions for calling off the strike, stating that none of them “remain substantially pending or weighty enough to justify” the continuation of the strike even one day longer.
“Having come this far, we believe it is time that we all come together once again as major stakeholders in the affairs of the country and the educational sector in particular to move on and begin to chart a new course for advancing the sector and improving the standard of our institutions for higher learning,” he said. “There are no victor or vanquished in this protracted disagreement.”
The federal government last week indicated it would fire the striking teachers today, but ASUU yesterday ignored the threat, opting to continue.
Meanwhile, ASUU president Nasir Isa Fagge has advised the federal government to write a letter informing the union of thee deposited N200 billion rather than just telling Nigerians that the money has been deposited with the CBN.