MInister of Labour, Dr CHris Ngige

The Federal Government has said the proposal made by the Prof. Nimi Briggs-led Committee in relation to the demands by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions in universities would gulp N1.12 trillion to implement.

Although the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has rose in stout defence of Government that there is currently no Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between it and the union awaiting signing by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dr. Ngige in a statement signed by the Deputy Director Press and Public Relations in the Labour Ministry, Mr. Olajide Oshundun, rather said, having rounded off its works, the Prof. Briggs Committee had proposed 109-185 per cent increase in the university wage structure.

It explained that based on the recommendation, Federal Government would incur, an additional N560 billion as salaries alone, on top of the present N412 billion, less all other allowances such as Earned Allowance, field trip responsibility and postgraduate supervision allowances, and hazard allowances which were to gulp another N170 billion.”

The statement added: “In all, the sum of N1.12trn will be needed to pay the salaries and allowances of university lecturers and other staff in the university system.”

The Minister of Labour and Employment claimed that at present, the wage bill of the university staff and their colleagues in teaching health systems gulp nearly 50 per cent of the total federal government staff personnel cost/ wages.

“Recall too that the Staff of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education has also placed their wage review in the front burner since two weeks ago,” he said.

While explaining how the Prof. Briggs Committee reached the proposed wage increase, Senator Ngige said what happened was that ASUU insisted that relevant Ministries and Agencies should recuse themselves from the sitting of the Committee, accusing them of non-cooperation. 

“All alone with the Prof. Briggs Committee, ASUU started fixing their salaries and allowances to the exclusion of the statutory government ministries and agencies that manage the entire annual finances of government, budget and fiscal policies and the Office of the Head of Service that is in charge of ensuring that public service rules and regulations are not undermined in any condition of service offered to public officers in the universities.

“Because of this exclusion engineered by ASUU, and the arising complaints to the Chief of Staff to the President and the Minister of Labour and Employment by the concerned MDAs, the Chief of Staff and the Minister of Labour set up an Inter-Ministerial/Agency sub-committee comprising the affected MDAs under the Minister of State Budget and National Planning to quickly look into Prof. Briggs Committee report which to all intents and purpose was still a proposal in June 2022 at the government side meeting.

“This assignment was to be completed with the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages and given two weeks to come up with their recommendation,” he said. 

Dr. Ngige said based on the foregoing, no agreement had been reached between the Federal Government, ASUU and other university unions on the renegotiation of their salaries and allowances (wages). 

The Minister, however, said, the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages has finished the review of the Prof. Nimi Briggs proposal and would shortly submit same to the President.

“This clears every doubt that there is an agreement before the President waiting for his signature. There is none,” he said.  

The Hon. Minister further said any CBA produced between the unions and the federal government would not be signed by the President, but by the government negotiating team and MDAs led by the direct employer with the conciliating ministry witnessing.

“This clarification has become necessary in view of the deluge of deliberate misinformation being dished out to Nigerians by the President of ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke as well as his branch leaders, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign an agreement which they claimed to have reached with the federal government”, he said.

“We wish therefore to inform Nigerians that there is no such CBA that has been reached between the federal government, ASUU and other university unions on the renegotiation of their salaries and allowances (wages). What is in existence is a proposal,” Dr. Ngige stated.