For several hours on Thursday, vehicular traffic into the University of Lagos was grounded as non-teaching staff unions locked the two gates into the institution in protest of non-payment of their entitlements by the federal government.
At a point, tempers flared after the recently appointed Vice Chancellor of the university, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, a professor, led a group of people to break the padlocks used in locking the university’s main gate.
Kehinde Ajibade, the Chairman of the Non-Academic Staff Union in the university, described Mr. Ogundipe’s action as “highly disappointing.”
“Our union is a stakeholder in the university system,” Mr. Ajibade said while addressing union members afterward.
“The vice chancellor is not for academic alone, he is for both academic and non-academic members of the university. I’ve never seen a place where a VC breaks the keys used in locking gates.”
Mr. Ajibade accused the vice chancellor of conniving with the federal government to cheat them.
The university’s media office did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported how the N23 billion the federal government disbursed to Nigerian universities to settle earned allowances and arrears was shared among 24 universities.
Three of the four unions in the universities – the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU; the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, NASU; and the National Association of Academic Technologists, NAAT – are accusing the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, of short-changing them in the sharing of the money.
A document seen by this newspaper showed that out of the N23 billion that was approved, the university lecturers got N18.38 billion while N4.61 billion was given to the non-teaching staff.
In protest, the three unions announced a strike to begin on December 3.
“(In) time past, when federal government release emolument funds, which is personnel costs, to each school they don’t tag it that this one belongs to ASUU, this one belongs to non-teaching, they send it directly to the school and the school pays the staff appropriately,” Mr. Ajibade told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.
“In 2013, when the first tranche of the money, N30 billion was paid, during the PDP government, they released the money to the school and the school shared the money with the understanding of the union. But this time around, ASUU has taken over the Ministry of Finance, N18 billion was given to ASUU while N4 billion was given to the three unions, this is an act of injustice. How do you want us to share it?
“So the government has committed this blunder.”
Mr. Ajibade said since the government had given a huge chunk of the released funds to the university lecturers, they should provide another money for the other three non-teaching unions.
“What they could have done is to release the money to each institution and give directives that all the institutions should meet their unions and share the money appropriately.
“So now it is the federal government that is causing the problem now and the national body of the three unions, SSANU NASU, and NAAT have declared an indefinite and total strike. No going back.
“Until they pay us our money, we are not going to resume, until we receive alert, the university system nationwide will be grounded. We want to know who is the owner of the university, whether it’s the academic or the non-teaching. If they can teach the students without the services of the non-teaching, they should go ahead.”