THE Federal Government on Tuesday said it cannot afford to pay the N92bn financial demand by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance, who stated this at the opening of a two-day meeting of Commissioners of Finance and Accountants-General of states, with the theme, ‘Restructuring Nigeria’s Finances,’ said the country was still suffering from the effect of the 2010 increase in salary; hence it cannot meet the current N92bn being demanded by the university lecturers.
Her words “At present, ASUU wants the Federal Government to pay N92bn in extra allowances, when the 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.
“Since I assumed office, the share of recurrent expenditure in our total budgets had increased astronomically. In fact, recurrent expenditure accounted for about 77.2 per cent of the federal budget and we are now working to re-balance this ratio.”
She continued: “The country is still suffering from the effect of the 2010 increase in salary. Do we want to get to a stage in this country that all the money we earn is used to pay salaries and allowances?”
“If the demands of the university lecturers are met and we continue to pay them salaries and allowances, we will not be able to provide infrastructure in the universities.”
The minister, who bemoaned over-dependence of both local governments and the state government on the federal government allocations, said that non-oil taxes accounted for 74 per cent of Nigeria’s Government revenues in 1970 but by 2012, it had declined to only 30 per cent.