The Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige has asserted that the federal government lacks the funds to meet certain demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ demands (ASUU).
On February 14, ASUU began a one-month warning strike.
The decision was made, according to the union, based on federal government’s failure to fulfill their contract, which includes problems such as salary, the university revitalisation fund, and the implementation of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) payroll software.
On Thursday night, Ngige told Channels Television that the N1.3 trillion revitalization fund was a pledge to ASUU by former President Goodluck Jonathan when Nigeria’s finances were sound.
Ngige said: “The N1.3trillion you are talking about was promised by the (Goodluck) Jonathan government. Oil was selling between $100 to $120 per barrel then and the revenue of the federation was rich.
“It was promised by that administration and they promised to kickstart the payment. They paid N200 billion which they borrowed from TETFund. They did not take it from the federation account. That payment spiralled even into 2016 — to our regime.
“A committee was set up with ASUU as members. Government said ‘we are going to drop N25billion for you to show you in good faith that we are not talking nonsense.’
“That one was dropped. Again, another money was paid last year because the committee couldn’t come up with anything that will generate funds.
“We don’t have it. The government didn’t say we are going to pay N1.1trillion that is remaining. They said we don’t have this money and under the principle of capacity and ability to pay, let us renegotiate it because TETFund is still there.
“Unless you want us to take money from TETFund and deceive you like it was done in that period.”