Striking lecturers ‘paid withheld salaries’

Taraba State University (TASU)
Taraba State University (TASU)

Striking Nigerian lecturers, whose salaries had been withheld by the federal government since February, were on Friday afternoon paid their February and March wages.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in April directed that the striking workers be paid their entitlements. It was, however, not clear why the April salary was not paid to the lecturers.

Confirming the payment to PREMIUM TIMES, the former chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter, Adelaja Odukoya, said his colleagues across other federal universities have been paid.

“Yes we received the payment this afternoon but that cannot change our resolute stance against our enrollment on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS),” Mr Adekoya said.

Some lecturers exchanged the news via an unofficial WhatsApp platform titled; “Akada Development Watch.”

ASUU had called the strike on March 23 after the government in February stopped its members’ salaries across the federal universities for their failure to enroll in the centralised payment platform for federal government workers, that is, IPPIS.

But at a meeting with the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, in April, President Buhari directed that the withheld salaries be paid urgently.

The minister also said vice-chancellors had been asked to revalidate the affected lecturers’ bank verification (BVN) numbers and forward them to the office of the accountant-general of the federation for the payments.

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But Mr Adekoya has said no lecturer provided any BVN before the payments were made on Friday.

“Nobody supplied any BVN. But we don’t know why the April salaries were not paid. Maybe because the President gave the directive in April, and we were only owed February and March salaries then. You know how government officials work,” Mr Adekoya added.

Background

ASUU has been locked in a protracted dispute with the Nigerian government over its opposition to the use of IPPIS for lecturers, saying it does not consider some of the peculiar operations of universities.

The lecturers’ union then developed a prototype of the IPPIS, called University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), which it wants the government to adopt for universities.

Angry with the government for not implementing past agreements and other issues, the union embarked on an indefinite strike, also arguing that the implementation of the IPPIS was against the FGN-ASUU 2009 agreement.

Speaking earlier on the president’s directive that his members be paid, the National President of ASUU, Abiodun Ogunyemi, had told PREMIUM TIMES that the payment would pave way for meaningful engagement with the government.

Mr Ogunyemi could, however, not be reached on Friday for his comments on the payment, as calls to his lines were unanswered as of the time of filing this report.

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