The ongoing nationwide industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) may not end soon, as Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has said that the Federal Government does not have the resources to meet the union’s financial demands.
The minister disclosed this on Tuesday while speaking at the annual meeting of National Council on Finance and Economic Development in Minna, Niger State, themed, Restructuring Nigeria’s Finances.
According to Okonjo-Iweala, ASUU’s demand for N92bn in extra allowances is not in line with government’s current efforts at reviving the economy.
“As at the time I assumed office as Minister of Finance, the share of recurrent expenditure in our total budgets had increased astronomically,” she said. “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.”
Okonjo-Iweala reasoned that paying the lecturers’ extra allowances would mean forfeiting infrastructural development in universities.
“At present, ASUU wants the government to pay N92bn 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. If we continue to pay them salaries and allowances, we will not be able to provide infrastructure in the universities.”
Okonjo-Iweala’s statement comes only a day after Minister of Education, Ruqayyatu Rufa’I expressed hope that the industrial action would soon be over, following a meeting of the task teams for the 2013 mid-term review of the four-year strategic plan for the development of the education sector.
ASUU, meanwhile, has always maintained its resolve to continue with the strike action until the Federal Government honours the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) both parties signed in 2009.
Source: Huhu Online
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