Deborah Tolu-Kolawole and Solomon Odeniyi
24 August 2021
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UNIVERSITIES have yet to get the N30 billion revitalisation fund almost two weeks after the day the Federal Government promised that the fund would be disbursed.
Recall that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, had on August 2, 2021 said the government had paid the money as contained in the Memorandum of Action since January 2021.
According to him, the money is, however, still lodged with the Central Bank of Nigeria, pending the conclusion of the audit report of the Implementation Committee on the use of previous funds disbursement to universities by the Ministry of Education and the National University Commission.
“The report has been turned in, deliberated upon and both 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,” Ngige was quoted as saying then.
He had added that the monies would be paid to successful universities based on the evaluation report of the committee the following week while those with shortcomings would be made to make up before accessing the fund.
But the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof. Victor Osodeke, told The PUNCH on Sunday that the fund had not been released.
Osodeke said, “They have not released any fund till now. We had a meeting to look at the audited report that they talked about two weeks ago but up till now, we have not been called upon or invited for any other meeting.
“The idea was to meet again. When we met initially, it was at a sub-committee level. We were meant to meet again and allocate the money to the universities, but since then, we have not heard from them.
“The universities should have received this fund since January. What the universities can do in January with the fund, can they do it today?
“In this country, prices of things are increasing every day. The more you delay the release of the fund, the less the universities get.
“The Ministry of Finance said it has released the funds; so, the education ministry is the one delaying the funds.”
But the spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Ben Goong, in a separate interview with The PUNCH, said the ministry was not responsible for the delay.
He said, “How is the delay with the ministry? The Ministry of Education does not make payments. The CBN does. If an agreement is reached and papers are signed, it is the Ministry of Finance that does the payment.”
Similarly, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in a separate interview with one of our correspondents on Sunday, said, “The issue of ASUU and the revitalisation funding is in progress; we are pursuing the CBN to be clear on timing for release.”
However, the spokesperson for the CBN, Osita Nwasinobi, has yet to respond to enquiries by The PUNCH on the matter as of the time of filing this report