Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) yesterday accused the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige of masterminding the amputated salaries received by members of the union adding that the scholars in the nation’s ivory towers are being treated like common casual workers.
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke stated this in an interview with The Nation yesterday.
The University of Jos Chapter of ASUU yesterday directed its members to stay at home until their salaries withheld by the Federal Government were paid.
Speaking with our correspondent yesterday, Osodeke alleged that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, personally wrote to the Accountant-General of the Federation and asked the OAGF to pay ASUU members half salary for last month.
Osodeke said: “Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, personally wrote that they should pay us half salary; treat us like casual workers.
“It is sad. We are not paid per day.”
The ASUU president said the union would meet next week and respond appropriately.
The minister, however, said the university lecturers were paid half salary for working for only 15 days.
Ngige said: “Anybody who worked for a full month will receive full salary for the full month. If you worked half a month, you will receive a half month salary. That is how it is.
“ASUU members were paid half salaries for working for 15 days in October.”
After being on strike for eight months, ASUU on October 14 suspended its strike “conditionally.”
The union explained that it suspended the strike in line with the order of the Court of Appeal and National Industrial Court and in deference to appeals by President Muhammadu Buhari, and in recognition of the efforts of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and other well-meaning Nigerians.
The union consequently directed its members to resume all services hitherto withdrawn with effect from Friday, 14th October, 2022.
In a statement issued at the end of the meeting and signed by ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, the union however regretted the failure of the government to satisfactorily address all issues in dispute.
The University of Jos chapter of ASUU on yesterday directed its members to stay at home indefinitely until the payment of their salaries withheld by the Federal Government.
The chapter’s chairman, Dr. Lazarus Maigoro, in a statement made available to The Nation in Jos last night, said: “One of the issues agreed at the meeting was that 50% of the backlog of eight months arrears of our withheld salaries will be paid to our members immediately, but as at the time of writing this press release, only 17 days prorated October salary was paid to our members by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
“Having stayed for about nine months running now, our members in the University of Jos considered this an insult to them by the Accountant General of the Federation.
“Is the Accountant General of the Federation actually answerable to the Minister of Labour? So, if today the Minister of Agriculture directs the Accountant General of the Federation to withhold the salaries of the staff of the Agricultural Research Institutes who have been on strike for over a year, will he obey that?
“We wonder why Ngige is keen about withholding the salaries of ASUU members because staff of some Agricultural Research Institutes have been on strike for almost a year but they have been receiving their salaries regularly. Is this policy only for ASUU members?
“We are also aware that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, wrote a memo to the Accountant General asking him to pay our members only from the day we suspended the strike.
“By this singular act, the Minister of Labour and Employment has casualised the work of the University Lecturers unfortunately.
“This further creates doubts on our minds as to whether the understanding reached with the leadership of the House of Representatives on some of the issues will be implemented at all
by those who are saddled with the responsibility of doing so in order to avoid further needless strikes.
“From all indications, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has personalised the matter between him and our union and is on a mission for vendetta.
“It has become crystal clear now that he wasn’t happy that the House of Representatives brokered a truce on some of the issues we went on strike for and has gone behind to undermine it.
“It is also very clear to us now why he shamelessly walked out on the leadership of the House of Representatives at one of the meetings with all stakeholders to the glare of all Nigerians because he never wanted any form of resolution to be reached on the issues being discussed.
“In view of the bottleneck placed by Ngige towards paying our members the backlog of our salaries, the congress of ASUU, University of Jos met today November 4, 2022 and resolved to stay at home, though not on strike, until the backlog of the withheld salaries are paid.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our members are back to work, willing and ready to work but are unable to work.
“Based on the revised academic calendar for the 2020/2021 session approved by the senate of the university, lectures should have started already but the challenge of lack of payment of salaries has constrained our members from going to the classroom to teach.
“What this implies is that the students who have resumed already will have to wait indefinitely while we wait for our withheld salaries to be paid to us.”