..May invoke strike action
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Abuja zone, comprising of University of Abuja, Federal University of Technology Minna, Nasarawa State University, Keffi Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai and Federal University, Lafia) have decried what they called ‘’ugly and worrisome unilateral drastic cut by the Federal Government in the personnel costs allocations to Federal Universities across the country’’.
Also, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Nsukka zone says it will paralyse academic activities in all federal and state universities if Federal Government fails to address short falls in personnel emoluments of its members.
The Abuja Zonal Coordinator of the union, Dr. Theophilus D. Lagi, while addressing newsmen in Lapai at the weekend shortly after the zonal meeting of the association, said the issue of shortfall in salaries payment to members across all Federal Universities which began in December, 2015 has become a pattern employed by the Federal Government to debilitate the workers movement in the country, especially ASUU.
He said “salary is sacrosanct and payment of full salary (including all earned allowances) is the lubricant of the wheels of industrial harmony within the university establishment.
“ASUU insists that her members have rendered their duties in full (100%) and as such, they should have their salaries and allowances paid in full and not in percentages or decimals.
‘’It is on this note that ASUU unequivocally demand an immediate restoration of releases of the full personnel costs (including arrears thereof) to all Federal Universities in Nigeria, in order to forestall the infliction of consequential damage to public university education in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Dr. Lagi further blamed the extant authorities like the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Agencies which have no inkling on how the University system works as the most probable reason for the pay-cut.
‘’It does appear that the Finance and Budget and Planning Ministries have failed to realise or refused to accept and correct their mistakes in the figures they project as appropriation for tertiary education, particularly the University education sub-sector’’.
The Zonal Coordinator stated further that ’’Government has no reason whatsoever, other than deliberate intent to inflict pains and misery on the University Academics, to hype the gimmick of recession and in that garb, decide to unilaterally cut the earned salaries of the academic staff’’.
In the same vein, the Zonal Coordinator of Nsukka zone of ASUU, Prof. David Ikoni, says the union will paralyse academic activities in all federal and state universities if Federal Government fails to address short falls in personnel emoluments of its members.
Ikoni disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the weekend after2-day executive meeting of zonal officers at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
He urged government to quickly pay the short falls in personnel emolument in federal universities and half payment of salaries, nonpayment of salaries and subventions in state universities or ASUU will be forced to embark on industrial action as this affect their members nationwide.
“We came to the embarrassing conclusion that Federal Government has failed to appreciate the enormity of the problems posed by its lack of action on the different components of the short-fall”, he said.
He said “the zone comprises Benue State University, Makurdi, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Kogi State University, Anyigba, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State University of Science and Technology and Federal University, Lokoja.
ASUU noted that the shortfall affects salaries, earned academic allowances, excess workload allowances, funding, etc.
ASUU described the trend as unacceptable, adding that if the situation continues, academic activities may be paralysed.
“The problem of shortfalls affects both federal and state universities, our union is of the strong view that there is no financial or moral justification for the continued shortfall in personnel emolument of members of the union who are rendering full service in their universities of primary assignment.
“ASUU NEC many times have strongly condemned the current practice by this government of deliberately paying fractions of salary to our members such that is no longer possible to know the percentage to receive at the end of each month.
“It is our opinion that the general public be put on notice so that our union shall not be held responsible if we decide to embark on any industrial action to press home our legitimate demand.
“If academic staff can no longer receive their salaries at the end of the month, it would be difficult for them to concentrate on effective delivery of their mandate as researchers and teachers and this is unacceptable. Federal and state governments must reverse this ugly trend in the interest of education sector’’, he said.
The zonal coordinator rolled-out figures of how the shortfalls affected universities in the zone from 2016 till date.
Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi – N552, 086, 111.99, University of Nigeria, Nsukka- N928,322, 378.76, Federal University, Lokoja-N20, 222, 556.65 and Federal University, Wukari- N96, 500, 000.
“The above figures show total amount government is owning academic staff of various universities as result of short-falls in personnel emolument of our members’’, he said.
Ikoni expressed displeasure that despite Federal Government’s request for N10 billion virement from National Assembly last year which was approved to address the short-falls of personnel emolument of academic staff of universities, still the money are yet to be paid.
“We are disappointed that both federal and state governments have failed to give education the required attention to move it to the next level.
“The union has held several meetings and written series of letters to the minister of education on this issue, it is now over ten months and the trend has continued unabated’’, he noted.
The coordinator appealed to progressive individuals, groups, parents and stake-holders in education sector to prevail on government to arrest the brewing restive situation in the Nigeria universities system before it become too late.