Nigeria university lecturers, ASUU, accuse federal govt of deceit, threaten showdown

University of Abuja
University of Abuja

University lecturers have warned of “consequential damage to public university education in Nigeria” if the federal government does not stop the slash in lecturers’ salaries.

The lecturers, members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, stated this at a press conference on Sunday.

The text of the speech read by Theophilus Lagi, zonal coordinator of ASUU-Abuja zone, was sent to PREMIUM TIMES.

ASUU-Abuja zone comprises the University of Abuja; Federal University of Technology, Minna; Nasarawa State University, Keffi; Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai; and Federal University, Lafia.

Mr. Lagi said the federal government has since December 2015 been intermittently slashing personnel funds to federal universities which has affected payment of salaries.

He gave examples of funds to the University of Abuja and the Federal University, Lafia.

“In January 2017, the personnel costs released by the government to the University of Abuja, for instance, was a little above N359 million,” he said.

“This amount could only pay about 91 per cent of the salaries of staff in the University for that month. However, in February2017, the same government released a little above N302 million to the same University of Abuja for the same purpose, when there was no reduction in the workforce at the University.”

The don also questioned government’s excuse of lack of funds due to the current economic recession.

“If FIRS, which generates revenue from taxes on economic activities met its target, when or at what point did economic growth contract and even went into negative as to warrant the claim of recession and existence of same?” he said.

He warned that the government must reverse the trend and ensure adequate funds are provided for universities to meet staff salaries or risk “consequential damage” to universities.

“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.

Read Mr. Lagi’s full speech below.

On 15th of April, 2016, ASUU-ABUJA ZONE (comprising University of Abuja, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Nasarawa State University, Keffi Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai and Federal University, Lafia) briefed you and by extension, the general public on the ugly and worrisome unilateral drastic cut by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in the personnel costs allocations to Federal Universities across the country. Today, almost a year after, we again sadly invite you for briefing on the same issue of shortfall in salaries paid to our members across all Federal Universities. This ugly phenomenon began in December, 2015 and it has become a pattern employed by FGN to debilitate the workers movement in the country, especially ASUU.

THE CAUSES

It is very unclear what informed the FGN decision to callously and brazenly indulge in this inimical practice of unilateral pay-cut. One thing is clear however and that is, the extant authorities like the Ministry of Finance and the Budget Agencies have no inkling how the University system works; this is the most probable reason for the pay-cut. It does appear that the Finance and Budget and Planning Ministries have failed to realize or refused to accept and correct their mistakes in the figures they project as appropriation for tertiary education, particularly the University education sub-sector.
Gentlemen of the Press, you would recall that the issue of salary shortfall was one of the cardinal points that led the Union to embark on a one-week warning Strike in November 2016. Further to the intervention of the Senate President in the week-long warning strike, some understanding was reached, virement was made and funds were released to clear up some of the accumulated salary shortfalls. One would have thought that the right thing to do was to sustain the temple and maintain the drive to clear all outstanding shortfalls and to put mechanisms in place to forestall any future reoccurrence of any form of shortfalls. Sadly, this was not done.

In January 2017, the personnel costs released by the government to the University of Abuja, for instance, was a little above N359 million. This amount could only pay about 91% of the salaries of staff in the University for that month. However, in February2017, the same government released a little above 302 million naira to the same University of Abuja for the same purpose, when there was no reduction in the workforce at the University. This dipped the pay-cut further down. While the staff of University of Abuja received 81% of their total salaries in February, their counterparts in the Federal University, Lafia received only 45 per cent of their total salaries for the same month of February2017. At the Federal University of Technology, Minna, the story is also not different, as the University experienced over N21 million cut in salaries each for the months of January and February, 2017.

This is now the norm, with no end in sight. The most worrisome part of the problem is that in the 2017 Appropriation Bill submitted by the Executive arm of FGN to the National Assembly for consideration and possibly passed into law, the agencies responsible for budget preparation have maintained the figures they used for personnel costs projections for 2015 in almost all Federal Universities. The implications of this are many. First, this gives the impression that none of the Federal Universities was expected to recruit any staff from 2015 through 2017. Not just that; the same Universities were not expected to promote any staff as well, for even if the appropriation for 2015 could be sufficient to pay salaries for 2015, it certainly would not be sufficient to pay 2016 salaries, if one or two staff were promoted in the Universities. Rhetorically, one would ask if the intention of the Federal Government was to stop recruitment and promotion in the Federal Universities while student enrolment increases yearly, putting more excess workload on the academic staff.

Government would want to predicate this shortfall on the so-called recession that they claim the country is in. Technically speaking, recession means quarterly back-to-back negative economic growth for consecutive quarters of a year. In meeting with the 2016 appropriation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was expected to generate 4.2 trillion naira from taxes; taxes on economic activities. It is common knowledge that as at the end of November 2016, FIRS met this target of 4.2 trillion naira. If FIRS, which generates revenue from taxes on economic activities met its target, when or at what point did economic growth contract and even went into negative as to warrant the claim of recession and existence of same? In fact, it could be proven that the nation recorded budget surplus in 2016. Therefore, the Federal Government has no reason whatsoever, other than deliberate intent to inflict pains and misery on the citizenry, to hype the gimmick of recession and in that garb, decide to unilaterally cut the earned salaries of the academic staff. It is imprudent for a democratic government like the Federal Republic of Nigeria to implement unilateral pay-cut in workers’ salaries knowing that such an action is against its own policy thrust, being a signatory to most of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions. This is condemnable in every sense.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PAY-CUT

Myriad consequences could cascade from this action of FGN. Foremost and most disturbing is the fact that State Governments who are the Proprietors of State Universities are waiting to copy this style adopted by the FGN to manage Federal Universities. Yea, with the benefit of hindsight, the State Governments will follow suit and this would precipitate a breakdown of industrial harmony across all public Universities in the country. Therefore, this singular action of the FGN is a recipe for the death of public university education in Nigeria. This implies that the masses shall no longer have access to university education in Nigeria and therefore, Nigeria shall continue to be under-developed.

WAY FORWARD

Unfortunately, this unacceptable practice which started in December 2015 has continued unabated. World over, 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.
Long Live ASUU, Long Live the forthright people of Nigeria!


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  • H. Seer

    Premium Times Editor,

    Igbo presidency in APC party will solve this; really, and what else?

    Please allow me a little space to
    flag a discrete national problem that’s more insidious than this university
    teachers’ angst. The truth is bitter. But there will never be Igbo president in
    united Nigeria. It’s as simple as that. The Aniocha and Ika Igbo, as banza
    Igbo
    , have stained the larger main Igboland with their usually crass misconduct
    such that the Igbo have now alienated virtually every other ethnic group in
    Nigeria.

    The Igbo have no friends not even amongst the Ibibio – who are their nearest
    neighbours 45 minutes away by road – because the Igbo are not likeable; and,
    they are not likeable because they are unjust people with no sense of truthfulness
    or fairness to others, as a cultural group taken together.

    Put an Igbo man in a federal institution he will kick federal character principle
    down the road and begin to plot like a forest tribesman on how to fill up the
    entire institution with Igbo people. This terrible ape-like cultural trait is
    so pervasive it defines the Igbo people as a principle, but the principle then
    becomes a collective detriment such that the Igbo man or woman cannot be
    entrusted with the collective aspirations of all other tribes in Nigeria. The APC
    party has no zoning of presidential office in the party constitution. Therefore,
    anyone suggesting Igbo presidency for the APC party now or forever, is slightly
    crazy.

    • Big Man

      @H.Seer:

      Wow. Well, well, well. What can one say? The facts are true. The conclusion must be true. The untold
      inference is that a resurgent BIAFRA idea is therefore dead on delivery. No more, no less. No other ethnic
      group in Nigeria supports Biafra. The Ijaw do not support Biafra, the Efik do not support Biafra. The Ibibio
      do not support Biafra. The Anang do not support Biafra. All these tribes are the main ethnic groups in the
      old eastern region which the Igbo unilaterally declared as Biafra in 1967. But if Biafra is dead on delivery,
      what can the Igbo people do in the alternative? So far they have no plans. But maybe that’s why they are
      Igbo. Hahahahaha! Maybe what the Igbo people actually need is a Pan Igbo conference just among
      themselves.

      The theme should be: WHY ARE WE SO CRUEL AND BARBARIC THAT EVERYONE DISLIKES US?
      Once they can probe this simple question and find answers, Igboland will become immediately calm and
      sensible. Like you said the Igbo on the western side of River Niger Delta; i.e, the Anioma and the Ika Igbo
      should never be invited to any Pan Igbo conference. Since 1966 those two counterfeit Igbo sub-tribes in
      Delta state commit atrocities, which caused a civil war in 1967, and which cost a million lives inside the Igbo
      mainland by vicarious liability. The Anioma and the Ika Igbo are possibly the worst species of Igbo people.
      Compared to the Wawa in Enugu state, for example, the difference is clear. If ever there will be an Igbo
      president in Nigeria (which looks impossible except by the way Jonathan succeeded to office) it can’t be
      an Anioma or Ika Igbo in Delta state. Never! The Ika and Anioma Igbo cannot change their spots forever!

      • L.T.D

        IGBO PRESIDENCY IS DANGEROUS. IGBO PRESIDENCY
        IS EVIL. IT SHOULD BE AVOIDED. THE IGBO HAVE NOT FULLY EVOLVED AS HUMAN BEINGS.
        THEY NEED MENTORING MORE THAN THEY NEED THE PRESIDENCY. ANYONE WHO ASSUMES THAT
        THE IGBO HAVE REACHED A PASS MARK IN HUMAN CIVILIZATION IS NOT WISE. THE IGBO
        CANNOT CHOOSE RIGHT FROM WRONG IN ANY MATRIX OF FACTS CONCERNING OTHER PEOPLE.
        THAT IS NOT HOW FULLY EVOLVED HUMAN BEINGS THINK. THAT IS HOW LOWER ANIMALS
        BEHAVE ON REFLEX.

    • Pastor T. Morris

      “For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole
      world and lose his own soul? The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a
      vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity
      and the weapon of his shenanigan will fail. There are thorns and snares on the path
      of the crooked. Anyone who guards himself prudently will stay far from them”.

    • Ohnigeria Godsavenigeria

      You are a liar, the works of your father the devil you are doing, the reward is curse upon you and your evil generation. Go ask judas Iscariot how he ended. Yours shall be even worse.
      You are overwhelmed with hate, envy and jealousy, and you have allowed the spirit of Cain, Esau and Judas Iscariot to posses you.
      Hear ye the word of the Book you vile and depraved soul, ‘evil shall slay the wicked and they that hate God’s children shall be desolate “.

      • O.K

        @ohnigeriagodsavenigeria:disqus

        Look here, Iyanmirin. There is no difference between Fulni herdsman and Igbo man. Can you hear me?
        Both of them are backward and primitive people. The only thing is that the Igbo man can speak some
        local Englsh but the Igbo man is still as backward as a bush man with no sense of city life. These
        useless Igbo people are like their Fulani pre-historic cousins. They have no brain to understand
        that city life forbids tribalism and demands equal rights. The Igbo man thinks the benefits of
        public office must go only to Igbo people. That was how the useless Delta Igbo killed the
        leaders of the Yoruba and Hausa people in 1966, and said the Igbo are doing revolution
        across the country, but without killing the leaders of their own Igbo ethnic nationality.
        Can you now see how Delta Igbo dragged Imo and Anambra people into civil war?

  • 440 Erestus

    @ohnigeriagodsavenigeria:disqus

    But can there ever be Igbo president in Nigeria if no other ethnic group can put his faith

    in any Igbo man to be fair to all, to be honest, just, and give all non-Igbo equal treatment?

    • Ltd

      IGBO PRESIDENCY IS DANGEROUS. IGBO PRESIDENCY IS EVIL. IT SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
      THE IGBO HAVE NOT FULLY EVOLVED AS HUMAN BEINGS. THEY NEED MENTORING NOW,
      MORE THAN THEY NEED THE PRESIDENCY. ANYONE WHO ASSUMES THAT THE IGBO HAVE
      REACHED A PASS MARK IN HUMAN CIVILIZATION IS NOT WISE.

      THE IGBO MAN CANNOT CHOOSE RIGHT FROM WRONG IN ANY MATRIX OF FACTS CONCERNING
      OTHER PEOPLE. THAT IS NOT HOW FULLY EVOLVED HUMAN BEINGS THINK. THAT IS HOW
      LOWER ANIMALS BEHAVE ON REFLEX.

  • Ohiri Anjus

    @ohnigeriagodsavenigeria:disqus

    Chris Ngige, an Igbo man is the Minister of Labour. It should not surprise anybody that agreements with university
    teachers will be breached by the federal government. No one can think beyond the outer limits of his or her culture.
    The Igbo culture is bereft of values, and is totally denuded of virtues, as money overrides all the Igbo thinking ability.
    An Igbo man will sooner break any solemn promise, without honour, since honour has no meaning in the Igbo culture.
    Whereas, honour by clear deed, rather than by just pronouncing the word, is the whole meaning of human civilization.

    • Elderman

      This generation of Nigerians is making a mistake. Nothing in the history
      of the Igbo people suggests they have administrative skills. People who had
      forever lived in small hamlets and villages for hundreds of years before the
      British came to colonize Nigeria cannot be expected to have administrative
      skills. The Igbo are the only major ethnic group who never built a big town for
      themselves before the British colonialists arrived. The Igbo had no organized
      life either – no kings, no chiefs as counsellors, nothing close to a political
      system.

      Such people should not be encumbered with administrative duties they can
      never perform. It is not in their history to administer a complex organization.
      And because they were tucked in the forest and lived only with themselves for
      centuries – before the British set them free to roam around and see the outside
      world – the Igbo have no store of knowledge to deploy in relating to other
      ethnic groups. In all history the farthest the Igbo man went in 1,000 years before
      British colonial rule was Arochukwu on the border of Cross Rivers state.

  • Extee2000

    EDITOR SIR,

    Are you people aware there is no
    light for one minute in central Lagos since Friday? If you are not aware I am
    telling you now. Once they sad Buhari was coming back to work last Monday we
    knew that hardship was coming back into our lives. You people should report this
    thing. It is not when we start mayhem that you will now report that.

    • Pointsblank

      LET TRUTH BE TOLD – IT IS RAJI FASHOLA WHO DISGRACED THE BUHARI GOVERNMENT
      AND BROUGHT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT WITH HIS INCOMPETENCE AS POWER MINISTER.
      FOR ONCE RAJI FASHOLA FAILED COMPETENCY TEST, BUHARI BEGAN TO HAVE AN ODOR.

      • Immanueli

        @ohnigeriagodsavenigeria:disqus

        No, the actual fact is that the job of president is above the head of Muhamadu Buhari himself.
        Raji Fashola is just a symptom of ignorance and corruption in the Buhari government. Nigerians
        risk mass death under this Buhari government. Already Lagosians are jumping to death in lagoons,
        as household debts have soared, 90% of businesses have collapsed and costs of living are rising.

        Yesterday a medical doctor (Dr. Orji) got out of his and jumped from the third mainland bridge into
        the Lagos lagoon to drown to death. So, you can see! If medical doctors cannot cope how will clerical
        staff on 20,000 Naira a month salary cope?

        Buhari has no plan. He just wanted to be president to sign cheques for Muslims and his Hausa/Fulani tribesmen only. Nigerians are dying en masse. The smallest can of Baygon insecticide to kill mosquitoes
        is now ₦1,200.00 – which is more than the daily salary of an office clerk,

    • endipin

      Things are getting worse since Buhari’s return. Is it incompetence or sabotage? I just wonder. Hard earned money is being spent on fuel and other social amenities in 2017! Sorry for the younger generation.

      • Tunde Anims

        @endipin:disqus

        You are very right sir. within one week of Buhari’s return Nigeria has returned to a failed state.

        Things were looking up when Buhari was taking blood transfusion in London for 49 days, but see.

        Immediately Buhari came back everything that was improving before became worse and terrible!!!