Moments after the Nigerian government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Thursday agreed on the disbursement of the controversial earned academic allowance, the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), has kicked.
It warned the government against the disbursement based on the current sharing formula.
PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday reported how Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila held a meeting with representatives of the federal government and ASUU to forestall fresh strike by the union.
But the western zone of the union during a media briefing on Thursday in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, said it is opposing the disbursement ”as currently configured by the government”.
It accused the government of using “divide and rule tactics” against the university workers in the country.
Addressing the media on the matter and other similar issues of welfare of members and general insecurity in the country, the national vice-president for the zone, Abdussobur Salaam, said the 75 to 25 per cent sharing formula for ASUU and three other unions of SSANU, NASU and NAAT in the disbursement of the about to be released N22.7 billion allowance is unacceptable.
Mr Salaam, who spoke with reporters shortly after the meeting of the executive council of the zone, said the union’s members ”are prepared to collapse the university system over the matter.”
“As a union, SSANU wholesomely and vehemently rejects the lopsided sharing formula, and will use every legitimate means to sustain its position on this. We have directed our members to be vigilant and shall collapse the system at any hint of the payment of the Earned Allowances using this evil formula,” he said.
Union attacks minister
The union described as unfortunate the explanation allegedly offered by the minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, on the reason for fixing the sharing formula at 75 per cent and 25 per cent to ASUU and other workers’ unions respectively.
According to Mr Salaam, Mr Uwajiuba had claimed in an interview that the figure of beneficiaries among the non-academic staff unions are lower than the number of the academic counterparts.
He said; “To underscore our position about the mischievous and wicked designs of government and its officials, the news report in Punch of yesterday, 17th November 2021, quoted the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in justifying the skewed ratio for Earned Allowances stated that the non-teaching unions are made up of just a small population of librarians and laboratory workers who cannot equate to the large number of professors in the university system.
“By deliberately watering down the membership of SSANU and ignoring the fact that registrars and administrators, bursars and accountants, lawyers, medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, engineers, architects, and people from almost every profession form the fulcrum of SSANU, shows the hypocrisy of a minister whose status supposedly earns him the tag of honorable. In the light of his statement, how honorable can we describe our Minister of State for Education?”
The union also said the continued refusal of the government to obey court rulings on the case of the staff school teachers can no longer be tolerated, saying the plan to ”migrate the teachers to other payment plan will be resisted.”
“We recall with disrelish how our teachers were said to have been removed from the payroll of the public universities in 2016. Rising up against the injustice, the Federal Government took SSANU to court, and judgement was made in favour of SSANU.
“Since 2018 when the judgement was delivered, the Federal Government has not obeyed to the letter the court ruling, but rather has been looking for ways to circumvent the judgement. Distinguished press men, it is apposite to note that the government has perfected arrangements to move the teachers to a new salary scale, known as CONPISS. SSANU Western-Zone considers this to be contemptuous of the court order, and a flagrant violation of the fundamental rights of the affected teachers. In the circumstance, SSANU wishes to state that it would not fold its arms and allow the rights of its members trampled upon or allow any agency of government to continue to impoverish its members. SSANU has resolved to take every legitimate means to take its members out of the current doldrums.”
The union also demanded the payment of its arrears of new minimum wage, noting that all other ministries, departments and agencies of government have received the arrears but the university workers.
SSANU said ”before it could listen to the government”, N20 billion which it described as the shortfall due to its members based on the sharing formula used for the disbursement of the earned allowance in 2019, ”must be released to its members”.
The union further demanded; “Immediate payment of N20 billion to SSANU and NASU as agreed in the negotiations of January and February 2021; immediate payment of arrears of the national minimum wage without further delay; immediate implementation of the National Industrial Court judgement in respect of the university school and as well as payment of their arrears; immediate review of the economic policies and strategies to stop the remorseless falling of Naira against Dollar in order to improve the standard of living of Nigerian workers, and improvement of the security architecture of the nation by strengthening the Nigeria Armed Forces, Police Force and other paramilitary agencies.”
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