This is cheery news for Nigerian universities.
From next week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will begin the disbursement of the N30 billion revitalisation fund set aside for them by the Federal Government.
But there is a caveat: Each university must present an audit report on how it utilised previous disbursements.
Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige, who announced this in Abuja yesterday, said the Federal Government deposited the N30 billion with the CBN in January.
He explained that the fund was not immediately disbursed because the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) committee needed to evaluate the audit reports of the universities
The revitalisation fund is one of the seven key issues evaluated yesterday at a Federal Government’s meeting with the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
According to a statement by the Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, the two parties expressed satisfaction with the implementation stages of what Ngige called “work in progress”.
The minister said some of the items in the Memorandum of Action (MoA) were nearly done hundred per cent within the timeline.
He added that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was directed to expedite action on the integrity test on the University Transparency Accountability Solution (UTAS) which, if successful, would eliminate the challenges posed by the peculiarities of the university system to the current payment platform.
“The report has been turned in, deliberated upon and the Education Ministry and the NUC have promised to write to the Accountant General of the Federation next week for the release of the money to the NEEDS Special Account for onward disbursement to universities shortly,” Ngige said.
He explained that apart from the N40 billion Earned Allowance, which the Federal Government has already paid, the Budget Office had shown evidence that N22 billion Earned Allowances for 2021 was already captured in the 2021 supplementary budget.
On the proliferation of state universities, the minister said: “A Bill has been sent to the National Assembly by the NUC to strengthen its arms in terms of delisting universities where funding and other parameters are inadequate.”
ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and promised that the union would reach out to its members.
Ngige expressed shock that the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) embarked on strike after holding a similar successful evaluation meeting with him last week.
Those at yesterday’s meeting were the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Peter Tarfa and the immediate Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Rasheed Abubakar.