The negotiation between the Federal Government and members of the ASUU ended in a deadlock as both parties rescheduled the meeting to Monday next week.
The Governor of Benue State who also doubles as the Chief Mediator on behalf of Federal Government, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, told journalists after a marathon meeting on Tuesday that “tremendous progress” has been made in the negotiations, particularly on the NEEDs Assessment and Earned Allowance issues raised by ASUU.
However, the hopes of an early resolution seem to be dampened by the position of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who has been quoted as saying: “At present, ASUU wants the Federal Government to pay N92bn in extra allowances, when the 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".
“Since I assumed office, the share of recurrent expenditure in our total budgets had increased astronomically. In fact, recurrent expenditure accounted for about 77.2 per cent of the federal budget and we are now working to re-balance this ratio.”
She added, “The country is still suffering from the effect of the 2010 increase in salary. Do we want to get to a stage in this country that all the money we earn is used to pay salaries and allowances?”
Also, “If the demands of the university lecturers are met and we continue to pay them salaries and allowances, we will not be able to provide infrastructure in the universities.”
Governor Suswam, who is also chairman of the Universities Needs Assessment Committee, said that going by the progress made so far the issues would soon be resolved.