Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour, has claimed the federal government does not have the money to meet some of the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
ASUU embarked on a one-month warning strike on February, 14.
The union explained that the decision was taken due to the federal government’s delay to implement their agreement, which include issues on salaries, the revitalisation fund for universities and the adoption of the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) payroll software.
Speaking on Channels Television on Thursday night, Ngige pointed out that the N1.3trillion revitalisation fund was a promise made to ASUU by ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan, when Nigeria’s finances were stable.
The Minister said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration informed ASUU of its inability to honour the previous revitalization fund agreement, but promised to explore other options to fund universities.
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.”