The House of Representatives have said the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila did not use deception in convincing the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities ASUU, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, to call off its strike.
The spokesperson of the House, Mr Benjamin Kalu, noted that Prof Osodeke had alleged that the Speaker failed to deliver on his written commitment that the government would offset the arrears of salaries owed to members of the union for the time they were on strike.
“For the record, at no point did the Speaker of the House of Representatives commit to offset the arrears of salaries owed to union members for the time they were on strike.”
”The House of Representatives helped resolve the strike by making commitments to improve the welfare package of university lecturers and revitalisation funds to improve the infrastructure and operations of federal universities.”
”These commitments are reflected in the 2023 Appropriation Bill, which includes one hundred and seventy billion naira ( N170bn) to provide a level of increment in the welfare package of university lecturers and additional N300b in revitalisation funds.” Mr Kalu stated.
He maintained that the House of Representatives has continued to work with stakeholders which includes the Accountant General of the Federation, and ASUU to facilitate the adoption of elements of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution UTAS, into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System IPPIS.
‘‘Professor Emmanuel Osodeke knows that the Federal Government of Nigeria is under no obligation to pay university lecturers’ salaries for the duration they were on strike. This is a settled matter in law. See S. 43(1)(a) Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN).”
”The Executive decision not to pay salaries to lecturers for the time spent on strike is warranted by the government’s legitimate interest in preventing moral hazard and discouraging disruptive industrial actions. Nonetheless, the Speaker has made interventions for an exemption in this regard, and Professor Osodeke is well aware of this”. Kalu said.
Mr Kalu noted that the public interest in ensuring a well-functioning tertiary education sector was a matter of paramount concern for all who understand the transformational role of education in any society.
He maintained that the 9th House of Representatives has been consistent in its efforts to explore avenues for reforms and improvement to the framework of public education in the country from basic education through tertiary.
The spokesman urged the ASUU President to desist from making further misleading statements against the House and the Speaker.
Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade and Julian Osamoto